Toronto Council will be voting in July to approve a new rapid transit network. A cautionary note was sent to key Councillors indicating that the decision should be deferred until Metrolinx-lead work on fare integration is complete.
The letter is reproduced below:
In July, Council will be asked to approve a conceptual transit network prepared by City Planning that is to be supported by a model forecasting projected ridership in 2031 and 2041, as provided by Dr. Eric Miller using the GTA Model version 4. This model includes assumptions about fares. As you probably know, there is a Metrolinx-led parallel exercise taking place on fare integration affecting most of the GTA (including Toronto) that is independent of the modeling work being prepared by Dr. Miller. At this time, Dr. Miller can only realistically use the status quo fare structures currently in place on GO Transit and the TTC, in the absence of an approved new policy on fare integration passed by either City Council or the province, as staff cannot make assumptions on such matters in the absence of such an approved policy.
The schedules of the Miller report and the Metrolinx fare integration study are currently not in alignment, based on the updates received in April from Metrolinx and in March from City Planning. These two initiatives must have their schedules coordinated for Dr. Miller’s model to reflect the fare context of the GTA in 2031, instead of fare context the GTA has today. The fare integration policy will not be known until the Fall, as September may the first opportunity City Council has to vote on it based on Metrolinx’s current timetable with consultations concluding in August.
The ridership model that Dr. Miller has been preparing for City Planning therefore will not reflect the network before Council because the fare assumptions will not be appropriate – this is unfair to Dr. Miller and is not helpful to Council. Fares have a significant influence on rider route choice and ridership demand. Without the completed fare integration work prepared by Metrolinx, Dr. Miller cannot prepare a reliable model for Council to base their decisions on since nobody at this stage has any confidence in what the future integrated fare structure may look like.
Given the size and complexity of the decision coming before Council, and the delicate, even vulnerable, balance in which the existing subway network currently finds itself, with potentially worrisome impacts on public safety due to extreme platform crowding at the Bloor-Yonge station and possibly other stations at the southern end of the Yonge line, Council must have reliable modeling results to make such decisions. We urge Council to defer this decision until the fare integration work is ready and available to Dr. Miller and ridership results based on those inputs included in a report before Council.
We will be happy to answer any questions on this important matter.
President, Transport Action Ontario