An estimated $850 million of the transit money allocated in the Trudeau government’s inaugural budget will go towards the TTC, transit head Andy Byford said.
Transit officials, along with high-ranking politicians, were at the Main Street subway station Friday to unveil the TTC’s first Presto-enabled fare gates. Instead, officials were grilled about federal funding for the TTC.
The TTC CEO said Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi visited the Hillcrest facility on Thursday to confirm that “there will be money flowing to Toronto.”
Byford explained he has yet to learn how much money the transit commission will get, but that TTC officials have worked it out to around $850 million.
Byford said in the past federal and provincial money was allocated on a per-capita basis.
“The big change is that they’ve said they’re going to do it on ridership,” he stated, adding that the TTC forms around 26 per cent of the ridership of all Canadian transit.
“If you do the math, 26 per cent of the funding that we think is available would equate to around $850 million,” Byford said. “That’s just our internal math, we don’t know if that is the exact figure.”
Byford said the TTC has been “chronically underfunded,” so once the money rolls in from Ottawa, he has a “shopping list” of things that need to be done including:
- New vehicles will need to be procured
- Modernizing Line 2 will need new trains and signalling system
- Potential new TTC yard
- Upgrades to the tracks, much of which is around 40 years old
- Pump and drainage improvements
Byford said the TTC is the least-funded transit system in North American. He said that 70 per cent is funded through the fare box and 30 per cent funded through subsidy, which comes from the city.
“For the subsidy we’re given, the TTC performs miracles everyday,” he said.
Byford explained that after being on the job for almost five years and trying to fix all the problems, he feels the TTC has been able to make a breakthrough, which includes getting major investments from Ottawa.
“That message that we have put out loud and clear – we’ve been the squeaky wheel – has now reached Ottawa, so I think we’re on the cusp of finally getting the comprehensive, affordable, sustainable funding that I’ve been certainly calling for for years,” Byford said.
MP Adam Vaughan, who was also at the Presto announcement, said the money for the TTC is definitely coming.
“The dollars and the resources have been delivered to the City of Toronto, and the province of Ontario, to deliver better transit and more reliable transit to folks in cities like Toronto,” he said.
On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the $3.4 billion included in last month’s federal budget for transit infrastructure will begin rolling out to municipalities this year.
The prime minister didn’t specify how much individual communities would receive, but he did say Ontario in particular could expect to receive about half the money – $1.5 billion.
Modernizing the TTC: Presto-enabled fare gates at Main St. Station
TTC chair Josh Colle said the new Presto-accessible fare gates at the east-end subway station was just one of the latest steps to modernize the TTC and improve customer service.
Over the last two years, some of the TTC enhancements included running subways earlier on Sundays, new express bus routes, the rollout of new streetcars, free WiFi and cell service in the subway system, and adding bike repair stands at stations.
The new fare gates, which slide open and close as a rider taps their fare card on the reader, will be available for Presto and Metropass users. However, the TTC is phasing out Metropasses to make room for Presto system-wide.
— Momin Qureshi (@Momin680NEWS) April 8, 2016
Reps from all levels of gov at main st station for unveiling of accessible presto fare gates pic.twitter.com/zec84Wh8Pn
— Cynthia Mulligan (@CityCynthia) April 8, 2016
Cole said the Presto-enabled fare gates will be installed at the 42 subway stations by the end of this year.
Presto card readers will also be installed on buses starting later this spring and on Wheel-Trans buses this summer, as part of the TTC’s plan to have the entire network Presto-accessible by year’s end.
— Momin Qureshi (@Momin680NEWS) April 8, 2016
Presto card readers will also be installed on buses starting later this spring and on Wheel-Trans buses this summer, as part of the TTC’s plan to have the entire network accessible by the end of the year.
“Once complete, there’ll be more than 10,000 Presto devices on streetcars, buses, subway stations and Wheel-Trans vehicles for the nearly two million riders who use the TTC every day,” Colle said.
“The rollout of Presto is a critical step in our move towards a fully integrated transit network across the entire GTA, and a seamless journey for transit users.”
Currently, the TTC averages around 350,000 Presto card taps per week on streetcars and subways combined.
With files from Cynthia Mulligan and Momin Qureshi