As Premier Wynne announced she would increase gas tax revenue to improve public transit, Mayor Tory’s cost-cutting measures are forcing the TTC to cut service and hike fares.
Transit advocacy group, TTCriders, is organizing a day of action on Monday January 30 to ask Mayor Tory and City Council to fairly fund the TTC now and improve service, not cut it. The day of action comes just before City Council votes on the 2017 City budget, which will be finalized on February 15 and 16.
Volunteers will be handing out postcards and talking to riders along TTC routes that are experiencing cuts and overcrowding to encourage them to complain to their councillor. This day of action is part of TTCriders plan to build a strong political base of transit riders who will ensure all elected officials vote for public transit every time.
“If we really want to get Toronto moving we need all levels of government to increase funding to the TTC, John Tory included,” said TTCriders spokesperson, Jessica Bell.
The TTC is facing a funding crisis caused by a lack of government funding. To address the shortfall, the TTC hiked fares for the sixth time in six years and has been quietly cutting service to reduce costs. The TTC reduced service on about 28 routes in November and January, and is violating overcrowding standards on 43 TTC routes. Instead of increasing service to match ridership as the agency is required to do so, the TTC choose to leave the routes overcrowded.
Scarborough resident Vincent Puhakka is planning on talking to transit riders on January 30. “I commute from Scarborough to downtown for work and I’m very angry that John Tory doesn’t care about transit riders like myself,” says Vincent Puhakka. “I want the TTC to be reliable and fast, not overcrowded and plagued by delays,” he said.
The TTC gets the least amount of government support per ride compared to all major transit systems, making it the most underfunded system in North America.
TTCriders welcomed Premier Wynne’s move to increase gas tax revenue money to pay for public transit in Toronto, calling it a victory for transit riders.
TTCriders has been campaigning for the provincial government to match the city’s contribution to the TTC, which in 2017 is expected to be about $545M.
The province will increase the gas tax from two cents to four cents a litre by 2021. Toronto will eventually receive up to $170M a year in gas tax revenue for public transit, up from $92M a year.
The province is letting Toronto decide how to use the gas tax revenue to improve public transit. TTCriders wants the funding to go to the cash-strapped TTC so Toronto’s 1.8 million transit riders can see service improvements and fare relief quickly.
Here’s where volunteers will be talking to transit riders on Monday January 30.