TTC plans to recommend a 10-cent fare increase in its 2019 budget

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The TTC plans to recommend a 10-cent fare increase in its 2019 budget, and will reveal the transit agency requires $33 billion over the next 15 years to meet its capital needs, the Star has learned.

The transit agency is expected to release its proposed budget Friday ahead of a board meeting scheduled for next Thursday.

A source with knowledge of the documents confirmed the TTC intends recommend increasing the price of fares by about 3 per cent, which would mean tokens and adult Presto fare card taps would rise by 10 cents, to $3.10.

The cost of an adult monthly pass on Presto is also expected to rise.

However, the agency doesn’t plan to recommend a change to cash fares, which are set at $3.25.

But speaking Thursday morning before any details of the budget had been made public, Mayor John Tory said that, since he first took office four years ago, he’s consistently said it’s reasonable for riders to expect fares to gradually go up.

“I said, at that time, that people should expect, because it’s a healthier way to proceed, that you will examine, each year, the prospect of an inflationary-type increase, because the TTC, itself, faces expanded costs,” he said.

He cited rising costs such as the new collective bargaining agreement the transit agency reached with workers in October, and the new two-hour transfer policy, which is expected to cost $20 million this year.

The board will have to approve the budget, including any fare increases, before sending it to council for final approval in March.

If approved, the fare increase would be the eighth to hit TTC riders since 2009. Fares were frozen in 2018, but the year before, they also went up 10 cents.

According to the source, the fare increase is expected to raise $25 million to $27 million a year for the agency, which last year had an approved net operating budget of more than $700 million.

The price hike would likely go into effect in April.

On the capital side of the budget, the agency is expected to publish a detailed accounting of its infrastructure needs over the next decade and a half.

Those needs add up to about $33 billion and take into account investments required to keep the system functioning and cope with anticipated ridership growth, but not costs associated with expanding the network by adding new lines. Only about one third of the $33 billion is funded, according to sources.

Major costs include buying additional streetcars, buses, and subways, building new garages, and upgrading electrical systems, a source familiar with the plan said.

The agency will also seek to increase the budget for its automatic train control (ATC) signalling system by more than $90 million, which it would do by reallocating money from other projects.

The ATC system is currently being installed on Line 1 (Yonge-University-Spadina) to improve train capacity, and had previously been budgeted at about $562 million.

In July, TTC CEO, Rick Leary, announced he was putting the program under review over concerns it might not deliver the planned capacity improvements without requiring additional work.

The installation of ATC on Line 1 was supposed to be complete by the end of 2019, but that deadline will be missed. Leary is expected to provide an update on the state of the program to the board in April.

Ben Spurr is a Toronto-based reporter covering transportation. Reach him by email at bspurr@thestar.ca or follow him on Twitter: @BenSpurr

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You don’t always need snow tires. But where you do, here’s what experts recommend – National

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With winter weather hitting eastern Canada, the age-old question pops up once again this year — is it actually necessary to use winter tires?


READ MORE:
Is it time for winter tires? Tips on getting your vehicle winter ready.

In Quebec, it is mandatory to have winter tires between Dec. 15 and March 15, and in British Columbia, policy was passed that requires drivers to have all-season tires on most highways from Oct. 1 to March 31, especially in northern parts of the province.

In Ontario, it is law for insurance companies to provide a discount of two to five per cent for drivers with snow tires, and the New Brunswick Medical Society recently called on the province to make winter tires mandatory, like in Quebec.

Already, approximately 60 per cent of B.C. drivers now own winter tires, compared to 38 per cent in 2014, according to the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada.

WATCH: New Brunswick Medical Society calls for mandatory winter tires on all vehicles






According to Gord Lovegrove, an engineering professor at the University of British Columbia who specializes in road safety, it is highly recommended for drivers to have winter tires, especially if you are the “least bit concerned.”

“If you are a novice driver or the least bit concerned, err on the side of caution and absolutely get snow tires,” he said.

Lovegrove said not to get any tires though, but to make sure you get snow tires that are certified, which is indicated by a small snowflake on the side of the tire, that they have “the right kind of rubber and tread.”

The difference between winter tires and all-season tires is winter tires have an advanced rubber compound, which means the rubber stays elastic and flexible at lower temperatures, according to the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada. They also have deeper tread patterns that are designed to get water away from under the wheel.

Snow tires should be installed when the temperature drops below 7 C, as below that temperature, all-season or all-weather tires lose their grip and need more braking distance.


READ MORE:
Winter tires: Do you really need to buy the most expensive brand?

Lovegrove said to make sure you ask for snow tires when shopping because companies that sell snow tires are then liable if they sell you anything that is “less than able to handle winter roads.”

Kristine D’Arbelles, a spokesperson for the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), also highly recommended snow tires.

“[CAA] highly recommend [snow tires], they definitely keep you safe in the winter,” she said.

Snow tires provide a lot more grip than regular tires, Lovegrove said, and when things are unpredictable on the road due to snow, high volumes of drivers and changing weather conditions, you’re better off safe than sorry.

WATCH: What to consider when choosing winter-safe tires






Snow tires are not only good for the snow, D’Arbelles said, but for really cold weather as well.

“The way the rubber hits the road and reacts with it, in cold weather such as minus 40, [with] all-season tires, the rubber gets really hard and sticks to the road more,” she said. “Whereas winter tires are a little bit softer, so the traction with the road is going to be better.”

However, both D’Arbelles and Lovegrove said that it is not a blanket “yes” to automatically get snow tires in Canada, but it depends on the place.


READ MORE:
Winter tires are the fastest growing tire category in Canada: Report

“There are many places in Alberta where roads are flat and straight and drivers are well accustomed to driving in winter conditions. They drive in all-season year-round [tires],” Lovegrove said.

“Various provinces have chosen to not make them mandatory because certain areas don’t make sense, like Vancouver probably doesn’t need winter tires,” D’Arbelles said. “I don’t think it is one size fits all, it is something that is discussed every year come first snowfall.”

D’Arbelles also pointed out that with snow tires, you can’t all of a sudden start driving like Superman, but they have to complement good driving as well, which she said is even more important than the tires you’re rocking.

WATCH: Is it time for winter tires? Tips on getting your vehicle winter-ready.






“[Winter tires] help when you have to brake suddenly in both snow and in cold weather, but you still have to be driving prudently and paying attention to the road,” she said.

She recommends giving yourself more time before leaving on your journey so you’re not rushing and have the mindset to follow best driving practices.

“If you give yourself more time, then it means less rushing, less road rage and not going at a speed that’s dangerous on slick and frozen roads,” she said.

“Just because you have winter tires, doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want.”

— With files from Cassandra Jodoin

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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