The Union Pearson Express train received a shocking $52.26 government subsidy per ride during its first 10 months of operation, according to a Metrolinx report released Tuesday. This is over 50 times higher the government funding per ride given to the TTC.
The Union Pearson train will continue to need a big subsidy because it was poorly designed to be a small boutique service for jet setters. You need big ridership to lower the rider-subsidy, and it’s hard to achieve that on a service that runs every 15 minutes, with fancy trains that fit 173 people on luxury seats. By comparison, an average TTC subway carries a maximum of 1,100 people, and service runs every 2 to 5 minutes.
We want the Union Pearson train to become a mass transit line with stops in our neighbourhoods, TTC level fares, and electrified trains.
We also question why Premier Wynne is so willing to fund the Union Pearson train, but refuses to fairly fund the overcrowded TTC, which is what the vast majority of riders use.
The TTC gets the least amount of government funding per ride of all major transit systems in North America, getting just 89 cents a ride, almost all of which comes from the city. The Union Pearson Express could be getting the most.
What’s even scarier is the TTC is facing an unprecedented budget crisis, needing at least $178 million more than it had last year just to maintain current service levels. On Wednesday, the City Executive just asked the TTC to cut its budget by 2.6%. The Wynne Government refuses to match the city’s contribution to the TTC, which it used to do.
We’re in for big fare hikes and service cuts next year, and that’s entirely the fault of Premier Wynne and Mayor Tory.
To give you an example of the funding crisis, the TTC estimated in its 2015 budget that it can raise $36 million when it hikes fares by 10 cents a ride, and cash fares by 25 cents a ride, which translates to a $5 a month or $60 a year increase for Metropass holders. So if the TTC wanted to raise five times that ($180 million) that would be a $300 a year increase, and that assumes ridership levels wouldn’t be affected, which they obviously would.
A fare hike like this would escalate a race to the bottom that our TTC and Toronto cannot afford. We need a race to the top to a world class public transit system, and that depends upon fair government funding.
We are calling on John Tory and Premier Wynne to provide stable and fair funding to the the TTC at the Canadian-subsidy-per-ride average of $1.26 a ride. Compared to the subsidy needed to run the UPX, that’s a bargain.