Olivia Chow promises $15 million worth of increased bus service

Olivia Chow promises $15 million worth of increased bus service

Olivia Chow at this morning’s press conference. (Image: CP24/Screenshot)

The slow reveal of Olivia Chow’s campaign platform continued this morning with a press conference at Wilson Avenue and Jane Street. There, with Jane Street buses trundling past in the background, the mayoral candidate committed herself to increasing the TTC’s rush-hour bus capacity by 10 per cent, if she’s elected. “It will mean that people will ride the bus with dignity, with comfort and more frequent[ly],” she told reporters, emphasizing that the change would make transit less crowded for mothers with strollers. (She did say her campaign would be about children and families, after all.)

When pressed for more details, Chow said the estimated $15 million per year it would take to implement her plan could be found within the TTC’s existing budget. The cost, she said, would cover both operating expenses and maintenance. She added that the service increase could be accommodated merely by delaying the process of retiring some of the older vehicles in the TTC’s fleet. Rather than being decommissioned, she said, those buses could serve additional riders.

The announcement is notable because it’s relatively modest. All the other mayoral candidates have made the Downtown Relief Line—a proposed new subway line that would siphon some ridership off the Yonge subway—a central policy plank, almost certainly because it’s a showstopper, a crowd pleaser and a stated priority of TTC brass. John Tory has already begun criticizing Chow for her apparent unwillingness to commit to building the DRL right away.

But Chow pointed out, correctly, that no candidate has actually released a detailed plan for paying for the new subway, a multi-billion-dollar project. “I support the relief line,” she said, “but it’s important to tell people where the money would come from.”

Better bus service isn’t a sexy campaign promise, but it does, at least, seem achievable.