Proposed 2023 TTC budget calls for 10-cent cash fare increase, 50 new special constables

A fight during the evening rush at Toronto’s busiest subway station led to someone being pushed onto the tracks on Tuesday.

Toronto’s mayor and budget chief along with the TTC chair are pushing for $53 million in new funding along with a 10-cent cash fare increase to help pay for a suite of new programs that, they say, will address service and safety issues.

During a news conference at City Hall on Wednesday, Mayor John Tory outlined the following new initiatives he and others are hoping will be passed as part of the 2023 TTC and City of Toronto budget processes:

  • Prioritize service enhancements in neighbourhood improvement areas
  • Hire 50 new TTC special constables for patrols
  • Hire 10 new Streets to Homes program outreach workers to help people experiencing homelessness or mental health issues
  • Expand Fair Pass Transit Discount program to expand eligibility for discounted passes to an extra 50,000 people
  • Increase cleaning in streetcars

“We’re continuing to make the investments that are needed to make sure service, safety and security are addressed by the TTC and the City government,” Tory told reporters.

“This is the beginning and not the end.”

Tory, standing alongside budget committee chair Gary Crawford and TTC chair Jon Burnside, defended the need for boosting cash fares.

“I know nobody likes a fare increase, but I think it does provide the additional funding that will help us to make the additional investments I’m talking about today and helps us to protect the transit system,” he said.

Tory added monthly pass users and seniors would see their fares frozen in 2023.

The $53 million over and above that fare increase will come from the City of Toronto’s annual subsidy to the TTC, which, if approved, will be nearly $959 million.

Tory was asked about concerns individuals who are marginalized would be over-policed with the hiring of dozens of new special constables. He rejected the idea, saying the total number of staff would rise to around 130, up from 80, and wouldn’t see continuous presence at every TTC property and vehicle given the size of the system.

RELATED: John Tory calls for $48M in new spending as part of 2023 Toronto police budget

The TTC has seen a number of high-profile safety incidents in recent years, such as a woman fatally stabbed at High Park station as well as six people attacked at St. Clair station in December, along with a handful of times when people were pushed off of subway station platforms.

TTC employees have also been the subject of stabbings and assaults more recently.

“The operators have been subject to unacceptable abuse in some cases but also violence, and of course there have been more of these random incidents involving passengers which we’re hoping we’ll be able we begin to address with these investments I’ve announced today,” Tory said.

This is the second major budget announcement Tory has made in as many days. On Tuesday, he called for an extra $48 million to hire 200 new uniformed Toronto police officers.

Tory was asked by reporters about how this will impact the overall budget. The full details haven’t been released yet, but he said more information will be coming on Tuesday as Toronto city council begins its budget deliberations.

The proposal tabled comes as the TTC struggles to get back to pre-pandemic ridership levels. That loss in fare revenue from riders has created massive funding shortfalls in recent years, something Tory and Toronto city council have lobbied to get gap funding from the provincial and federal governments for.

Meanwhile, the TTC board still needs to vote on the 10-cent cash fare increase as well as review the other proposals.

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