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Expect another TTC fare increase in New Year

Effective New Year’s Day I’m betting TTC riders will see tokens andMetropasses rise in cost, along with student and senior tickets. Andalthough relatively few people pay single fares, the current $2.75 cashprice could hit $3.

Effective New Year’s Day I’m betting TTC riders will see tokens and Metropasses rise in cost, along with student and senior tickets. And although relatively few people pay single fares, the current $2.75 cash price could hit $3.

“What, another hike?” you exclaim. Fares have risen six times in the last decade, with tokens going up — on average — a nickel annually. It was about a year ago, just as the economy went awry, that Mayor David Miller told riders there would be a fare freeze through 2009. However there is too much pressure on TTC finances to expect a repeat in 2010.

My prediction is only that — and I’d actually like to be wrong. But holding the line on fares means either City Hall, Queen’s Park or Ottawa must provide extra cash, even as their deficits balloon out of control.

If there is a hike, New Year’s Day is a likely date. The TTC board would need to approve price changes at its meeting of Nov. 17, barring major political manoeuvring. Last week the commission voted to pare back its capital budget. The city councillors who oversee the TTC agreed to postpone or slow down a long list of projects — not including basic maintenance or the high-profile subway and light rail expansions that have been announced this year.

Transit chair Adam Giambrone tells In Transit he does not predict service cuts will be used to counter shortfalls in the operating budget. To me, this makes fare hikes inevitable — the only question is how much.

Back in September, the TTC appeared to be preparing us for a big hike in the Metropass price when it singled out the monthly pass as a money drain. In late 2007 the Metropass rose from just under a hundred dollars to $109 — a 9 per cent increase. That was too much. Riders should soon have a clearer picture of what to expect. Later this week the TTC may update the media on the transit system’s budget needs.

Fare hikes usually get heavy coverage as riders feel caught off guard — so maybe it’s time to talk about predictable fare increases, similar to GO Transit. Why not raise TTC fares once a year — roughly at the rate of inflation? Tell me your opinion at metronews.ca/intransit.

 
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