TTC fare hike dead in the water: city finds cash to freeze riders’ transit costs

TTC fare hike dead in the water: city finds cash to freeze riders’ transit costs

Yesterday we said the optics of cutting taxes on motorists while raising the price of public transit are “so bad it’s hard to imagine this is serious.” As it turns out, it isn’t serious: just over 24 hours after announcing the fare hike, Karen Stintz is holding a 2 p.m. event to announce that the city has found the $24 million ($16 million from the city, $8 million from the TTC) it needs to keep fares where they are.

According to the Toronto Star:

But another transit commissioner suggested that there’s “no appetite among councillors to engage in a public free-for-all pitting transit riders against drivers in our city.”

“Budgetary losses (resulting in part from the recently-abolished $60 Vehicle Registration Tax) should not be found from another tax hike at the expense of transit users,” said city councillor Maria Augimeri.

The proposed TTC fare hike of $5 a month on Metropasses would cost transit riders $60 a year.

Where did this money come from, anyway?  Stintz isn’t saying, though she is saying that it won’t come from service cuts on top of the ones announced yesterday.

Is it too early to look a gift horse in the mouth?  Because while this is not as bad as it could have been, the tax cut that motorists were gifted as the mayor’s first priority is still way more than a tax freeze for transit users. For the treatment of the two groups to be roughly equal, the city would have to undo last year’s fare increases, as well. Nobody wants that, though, because the TTC needs that money (and will well into the future).

So this is likely just a reprieve for transit users: the car tax is dead and almost certainly not coming back, while TTC fares will go up at some point in the future, as surely as Toronto’s traffic will be congested. Still, we can’t be too churlish: motorists and transit users may not be equal in the eyes of His Worship the mayor, but even a temporary break on this stuff is welcome.

• TTC fare hike off as city comes up with the money [Toronto Star]
• City scraps proposed TTC fare hike [Globe and Mail]
• BREAKING: No TTC fare hike this year, sources confirm [National Post]
• TTC to cancel recommended fare hike [CTV News]