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TTC votes to use $47.7M surplus for 2015 fare freeze

The TTC has unanimously approved a motion by member Karen Stintz to use a budget surplus of $47.7 million to avoid a fare increase in 2015.

Stintz, who was the TTC chair until she decided to run for mayor, said she saw nothing inappropriate about putting forward the motion.

“I’m a sitting city councillor and I’m a member of the commission and in that capacity I brought forward a motion that was unanimously supported by my colleagues,” she said. “I called for a fare freeze once I found out that money was available.”

She added, “I felt it was important that we reward customer loyalty….I don’t know how long we can freeze fares for but I thought it was appropriate to give it back to customers.”

TTC CEO Andy Byford said he supported the fare freeze decision, which still requires council’s approval. But he doesn’t believe all the surplus will go toward the fare freeze as the TTC is still $3 million short of its budget from the last budget round.

Former TTC chair Howard Moscoe said setting aside a portion of the surplus to keep fares down isn’t a bad thing. “It’s a popular thing.”

But he said TTC riders would benefit more from a capital improvement project than from a fare freeze because “if that money were used to put better services on the street…riders would benefit more.”

And he said it’s inevitable that there will be another fare increase.

TTC chair Maria Augimeri, who voted against the five-cent fare hike last year, said the commission should never have hiked fares in the first place.

“I was happy to support the money going back into people’s pockets and not charge them again for another increase next year,” she said.