Proposed TTC fare hike works out to pretty much the same amount as cutting the vehicle registration tax

Proposed TTC fare hike works out to pretty much the same amount as cutting the vehicle registration tax

Rob Ford’s first budget as mayor says a lot about where the city is heading over the next four years. The list of cuts announced this morning reads as if it was designed to make the already-stark division between the downtown and the inner suburbs worse. Case in point: the mayor and his allies have cut the $60-per-year Personal Vehicle Tax while pondering a fare hike for the TTC that would come to, you guessed it, $60 per year for each TTC customer. Looks like the war on the car is over. And the car won.

The optics of having transit commuters pay so that motorists can avoid 0.7 per cent of the cost of car ownership are so bad it’s hard to imagine this is serious. (Up next in Toronto: user fees on recycling to pay for a new landfill?) If the fare hike turns out to be reversed, as Ford and Karen Stintz are saying they hope to, that would be welcome—but it still wouldn’t change the fact that car owners are getting a break while TTC riders, who already got a $120 per year fare hike in 2010, shell out twice what motorists had to pay.

It’s not like this is terribly surprising—Ford made his priorities clear during the election, and if David Miller was perceived (rightly or wrongly) as favouring the core at the expense of the suburbs, it looks like the downtown needs to get used to being on the outside looking in.

One thing that shouldn’t be missed though is that all of this is 100 per cent the mayor’s doing. When even the budget chief Mike Del Grande tells the Globe and Mail that he was shut out of the budget-making process, it should be clear that nothing important is happening at city Hall without the mayor’s say-so. When the inevitable complaints about service cuts or user fees come in, Ford is going to have nobody to share the blame with.

Ford to balance books with no new taxes, no big service cuts [Globe and Mail]
• TTC fare hike: Riders lose what motorists gained [Toronto Star]
• Ford hints at TTC fare hike; budget cuts revealed [Toronto Star]
• Rob Ford’s spending plan unveiled: Toronto on track for TTC fare hike [Globe and Mail]