TTC defers bus route decision

TTC defers decision on cutting bus routes

The TTC will defer a decision to cut service on bus routes until their next meeting on February 2. Unlike the quickly rescinded fare hike, which was more of a farce than anything, this is good news -- not because all of the routes must stay at current service levels (there's not enough money) -- but because the TTC has decided to look into alternatives that won't eliminate service altogether on certain days and after certain hours.

What exactly these are and whether or not they'll be viable isn't yet clear, but over the last few days many have noted that the service cuts are the bigger issue that's been obscured by the fare hike fiasco. Perhaps Laurence Lui put it best on his blog, 299 Bloor Call Control: "While it is true that many of these routes carry ridership below TTC's financial standards, these services have been provided to achieve a basic service standard: bus routes will run when the subway is running.... The removal of such [off peak] service is disconcerting - Toronto is becoming an increasingly 24-hour city, with a large proportion of taxpaying shift workers that depend on transit in odd hours. Removing service in these periods impact them the most: a worker may no longer have a way to work."

The problem, of course, is where the money is going to come from. Without the revenue from a fare hike, the TTC is already looking for an additional $8 million. And General Manger Gary Webster estimated that the deferral of a decision on route cuts alone will likely cost the TTC a million bucks. But here's the thing: for all the talk surrounding new subways vs. LRT expansion, ensuring that all areas of the city (and especially those far from the subway line) have these basic service levels should be a first priority.

It seems logical enough that buses running with virtually no passengers should be expendable, but as a sort of first principle of service, regardless of current usage levels, both the City and the TTC have a responsibility to provide residents with the ability to get around without a car (or without having to shell out a fortune for cabs). To have to tell those who rely on the TTC to get to work outside of 9-5 hours along the affected routes that there's just no service anymore would represent a big step backwards for transportation in this city.

Photo by sjgardiner in the blogTO Flickr pool.

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