Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Globe and Mail: Fare rise will hurt the poor, TTC official acknowledges

More about the TTC fare hike.

The Globe and Mail: Fare rise will hurt the poor, TTC official acknowledges

It's interesting that GO transit raises fares each year - yet this never results in the level of acrimony seen in response to such moves by the TTC. It's also escaped most commentators attention that GO Transit's ridership has climbed every year. So what is going on here?

Well, the TTC's P.R. problem in raising fares is very much a case of being hoisted by one's own petard. The politicos at and around the TTC have waged a years-long P.R. campaign blaming the Harris government and the subsidy cuts for a drop in ridership. They've persisted in this claim despite the fact that the TTC experienced the bulk of its ridership decline in the early 90's - during the NDP regime under the bright but severely misguided Bob Rae.

This period saw employment in the city fall precipitously. As is true for all transit systems, the majority of the TTC's riders use it to travel between work and home. In Toronto in the early 1990's there were fewer and fewer of these each year. The decline in ridership revenue forced the TTC to raise fares on the remaining riders.

Now increased fares do cost ridership - but the impact is marginal, and in my view temporary. The fact is that those who can rely on full-service transit systems such as the TTC save thousands of dollars a year when compared to the cost of owning and operating a car. People do not run and and buy cars because fares have risen by a dime or a quarter. Some may choose to walk or bike instead.

It's heartening to hear hear Councillor Joe Mihevc touting the great value the TTC provides - a welcome respite from the nonsense spewing forth from the likes of Gordon Perks. The TTC should follow through on its plan to improve bus service. It is well behind Montreal and Ottawa in establishing express bus services.

There have been too many years spent chasing subway dreams. It's too bad that so much of the available money is spent on useless streetcar projects. Without these, we'd be a lot further along.

No comments: