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Byford seeks millions to buy buses, create jobs

The head of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is seeking millions of dollars to hire more employees and buy new buses.

CEO Andy Byford delivered his pitch to the budget committee on Wednesday — day three of a four-day session to review the proposed 2015 budget.

Wednesday’s session covers a host of city-run services and agencies, including the TTC, Toronto Zoo, Exhibition Place and Heritage Toronto, to name a few.

Watch a live stream of the meeting on CityNews.ca/live and 680News.com/livevideo.

The $9.3-billion budget calls for the hiring of 800 people, as well as the purchase of new subway cars and buses.

This year, the TTC projects it will service about 545 million riders, and that its capital costs will be over $6.5 billion over the next 10 years.

Byford said that means they have to come to the city to ask for more money.

“Adding service to cut wait times and cut loading standards, so that does require people — that’s why there’s such a heavy people ask,” Byford said.

He said that even though the TTC is asking for more money, Byford said his job “is to make sure we’ve got enough money to run the service.”

“This budget ask would give us that. Don’t forget that this budget is something that we’ve been pushing for the past three years.”

“I keep saying this is the lowest subsidized network in North America.”

Byford said one of the things the TTC desperately needs is to hire more staff, including drivers and maintenance workers.

The TTC is also hoping to have streetcars fitted with Presto readers by the end of 2015 and all other vehicles and subway stations by the end of 2016.

By the end of this year, 12 more subway stations will be equipped with Presto readers, bringing the total to 26. Buses will be done by summer 2016, and the remaining subway stations by the end of that year.

This is Byford’s fourth budget as head of the TTC. Read the staff-recommended 2015 operating budget and 2015-2024 capital budget below, or click here for a mobile-friendly version.

Earlier this month, Mayor John Tory proposed several changes to the TTC — including a 10-cent fare hike and free rides for children 12 and under — as part of a $95-million investment in transit.

The changes would take effect March 1, pending approval by the TTC and city council.

At the budget committee meeting, Byford said all fare changes will bring in $35.8 million.

Tory unveiled the 2015 draft budget earlier in January, which will be open to public consultation before going to city council for a vote on March 10.