Toronto’s Transit Commission Board has approved operating budgets for 2021 with an emphasis on protecting priority bus service while maintaining fare rates for the year.
According to a release sent to Daily Hive, the budget totalling $2.15 billion “holds the line on the city subsidy at 2020’s subsidy at $789.8 million,” with $769.4 million allocated for pandemic-related costs in the new year.
The fare freeze, first confirmed by Mayor John Tory last week, and increased service announcement reflects the TTC Board’s commitment to high-quality, responsive service for riders now and beyond the pandemic, says TTC Chair Jaye Robinson in the release.
“By freezing fares and increasing bus service where it is needed most, we are ensuring that the TTC remains a safe, reliable, and accessible option for Torontonians,” says Robinson.
Since the onset of the pandemic, the TTC has experienced a drastic reduction in ridership. John Tory said last week that Safe Restart Funding secured by the federal government has ensured the 2021 budget is able to protect service and put more transit options on busy routes.
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“The 2021 TTC budget protects our current system and will make sure we are putting more service on our busiest routes during the pandemic,” said Tory.
“With the provincial and federal governments through the Safe Restart agreement, the City is doing everything possible to keep our system safe, accessible and efficient. This budget also freezes fares to keep transit affordable – something we know residents need right now.”
Allowing for an increase in bus service to 101% of pre-pandemic levels and “flexibility to match service with demand at the individual route level,” the new budget provides bandwidth to adjust as ridership increases later into the year.
“We are protecting services where they are needed most while keeping the cost of transit affordable by freezing fares, which is the right thing to do given the economic toll the pandemic has taken on our customers and residents across this great city,” said TTC CEPO Rick Leary.
In addition to demand-based service, the budget allocates funding for:
- Vehicle maintenance programs to ensure repairs are completed proactively prior to failure, to maintain strong, safe vehicle performance;
- Diversity and inclusion initiatives contained in the Embrace Diversity Action Plan, including enhanced training for all employees and diversity outreach programs designed to ensure that the TTC’s workforce is representative of the community it serves;
- Improvements to call wait times for Wheel-Trans customers through the implementation of call overflow service;
- Provision of capacity for business continuity and emergency management operations;
- Preparation for ModernTO and cybersecurity implementation;
- Preparations for Line 5 Eglinton LRT operations which opens in 2022;
- Other initiatives such as work on service integration with regional partners and automated shuttle service, helping ensure the TTC is ready for and resilient to changes in the future.
The board also approved a $1.32 billion Capital Budget for 2021 which includes $902.7 million for infrastructure projects and $411.8 million for Vehicle projects. State of good repair funding amounts to over %60 of the budget.