Challenges and Openings for the Free Transit Movement in Toronto

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 2146 ... July 15, 2020

Challenges and Openings for the Free Transit Movement in Toronto

Herman Rosenfeld

Toronto is Canada’s largest city, with a population of 2.7 million (and over 6 million in the Greater Toronto Area). The public transit system is the third largest in North America, after New York City and Mexico City. It is made up of four subway lines, 11 streetcar routes; and over 140 bus routes. The city transit system is run by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), which is responsible to the Toronto city government. There are also public transit stops for the regional system, called GO, which, in turn, is managed by the regional transit authority Metrolinx, which is responsible to the province of Ontario. Suburban regions and municipalities have their own operators. Compared to them, as well as GO, the TTC carries by far the most passengers.

While massively used, the Toronto transit system is chronically underfunded, both absolutely, and in comparison, with other transit systems. The subsidy per rider was approximately $1.07 in 2019, up from the traditional levels, but... below the historical average of around $2.50.

The subsidy is key, as public transit operations can never be fully paid for by fares. But, the Toronto "fare-box ratio" -- that is, the percentage of operating funds that come from fares, is around 67.4 per cent -- also the highest in North America. This is due to the low levels of government subsidy from both the city and the province.

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