Fare hike and job outsourcing approved in principle by TTC

The TTC board voted in favour of a five-cent fare hike on Thursday to help fill a $28-million gap in the budget. The hike is in principle however, and that means council will still have to approve it. If approved, the price of a token will go up to $2.65, but the cash fare will remain at $3.

The budget hole is partially due to increased ridership, according to Brad Ross, TTC director of corporate communications.

“We anticipate 528 million riders in 2013,” he said. “When you have that many riders, you need to put the service on the street to match that ridership demand.”

The fare hike will help bring in an estimated $18 million annually, but that still leaves a $10 million gap that needs to be filled.

Another way the TTC is trying to fill that gap is by voting on Thursday in favour of outsourcing cleaning jobs to other companies to save an estimated $4 million each year. This left some TTC cleaning service workers furious as they walked out of the public meeting  on Thursday chanting, “where’s the respect?” and “this means war!”

Before the vote, some appealed to the commission to ask them not to outsource. Among them was Carmen Miller, who has been working for the TTC for over a decade.

“We’re not just cleaners. We’re far more than that. And we love our job,” she said. “I’m a TTC person through and through, just like … all these other people who are here and are going to go work another 10-hour shift tonight after this is done.”

Some commissioners were also against outsourcing, including commissioner Maria Augimeri.

“We are virtually declaring war on our workers today,” Augimeri said. “We’ve already been told that this stupid motion today will cost us, and it will cost us dearly.”

TTC chair Karen Stintz, however, was firm in her reasoning. “We don’t contract out because we want to,” Stintz said at the meeting.

“Instead of using words like, ‘eating our young,’ and ‘sacrificing our future,’ ‘declaring war,’ why can’t we agree that this outcome is not optimal and that we strive for a better way of negotiating how we’re going to bring down our cost and improve our quality?”

Stintz told the meeting TTC cleaners will not lose their jobs. But they will be assigned to different ones and will be paid less.

Another major factor in the TTC budget is subsidy. In 2010, the TTC received 84 cents per rider from the city of Toronto, according to the TTC website. The TTC receives no subsidy from the provincial or federal governments. On the other hand, Vancouver, for example, receives $2.92 per rider from the provincial and municipal governments.

The subsidy level will remain unchanged from last year as ridership grows, according to Ross.

The TTC has a revenue surplus of $15 million this year. However, because the TTC receives subsidy from the city, the surplus is required to be given to the city of Toronto.

“Between now and the end of the year, we will continue to work with the city internally to find some savings that perhaps increase in subsidy levels as well,” Ross said. “And maybe that’s through returning some of that surplus back.”