Critic blasts TTC fare freeze – Metro US

Critic blasts TTC fare freeze

Toronto’s rising operating costs will make it difficult to maintain recently expanded bus service without hiking TTC fares next year, critics say.

The budget committee yesterday signed off on this year’s $8.7 billion operating budget — up $500 million — which carries a 4 per cent residential tax hike and warnings that it will be even harder to balance the 2010 budget.

After policing, transit is the second biggest cost for the homeowner, who can expect a municipal tax bill of $2,334 on the average Toronto home assessed at $387,129.

To help with transit costs, the city received $238 million from the provincial government’s budget surplus this year.

But a similar windfall is not expected in 2010.

Meanwhile, the city faces wage increases for TTC workers, police and the civic bureaucracy and a rising welfare caseload, said Coun. Shelley Carroll, the budget chair.

Coun. Doug Holyday, a critic of Mayor David Miller’s administration, said the city may have miscalculated in freezing transit fares in 2009.

“Where are we going to get the money to continue this level of service for the TTC?” Holyday said. “It isn’t there. So if we’re going to have to deal with a fare increase, it’s going to be double or triple what it would have been this year.”

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