Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011
Dear TTC Chair and Commissioners,
The Toronto Transit Commission has proposed a number of service cuts that will deeply impact numerous residents in Ward 22 and across the city. While I applaud the Commission’s recent decision to cancel some of the proposed reductions on several bus routes, my community is still very concerned about the elimination of service after 7pm on the Mt. Pleasant 74 bus.
According to the TTC’s estimates, 43 riders use this route between 7pm and 10 pm on an average weekday – 2 boardings shy of the 15 passenger per hour threshold the TTC has set for continuing bus service. After receiving numerous emails and telephone calls from constituents advocating to retain this service, I decided to personally ride this bus during the hours proposed for reduction to speak with riders and learn more about how they use this service. I was also well aware that there are at least four large seniors’ residences on Mt. Pleasant between Merton and Eglinton.
On Tuesday, January 25th, 2011, I took the 7:45 northbound bus from St. Clair station and witnessed over 20 boardings during a single run to Eglinton and Mt. Pleasant. Obviously, this experience raised reasonable questions about the TTC’s estimates on ridership along this route. Therefore, I asked my Executive Assistant, Andrew Athanasiu, to conduct a more thorough and accurate passenger count. On Monday, January 31st, 2011, between 7pm and 9:15pm, Mr. Athanasiu counted 93 (rather than the TTC’s estimate of 43) passengers – well above the threshold the TTC has set for continuing bus service.
I recognize the importance of being thoughtful about how we dedicate tax dollars and am acutely aware of the very real budget constraints we have as a City today. However, I am also cognizant that the TTC is a public service. These local bus routes are the only transportation option for many seniors, students and workers. Many residents in my community, and across the city, rely on public transit to go grocery shopping, travel home from work, visit family and friends or attend religious services on the weekend. Also, I am concerned about the safety of individuals, including seniors and women, traveling after dark that cannot afford a taxi and are left with long walks to their home without this service they have come to rely on.
My first hand experience on the Mt. Pleasant 74 bus has raised important questions about the accuracy of the TTC’s ridership numbers. Therefore, I respectfully request that you defer the proposed elimination of bus service until TTC staff is able to perform a new count for the routes being considered for reduction so that you may have an opportunity to make informed decisions based on information you know to be current and accurate.
In addition, to offset the potential savings due to the proposed reduction in service on the Mt. Pleasant 74 bus route, I submit that the possibility of merging it with the Mt. Pleasant 103 bus route between 7pm and 10pm on weekdays could be explored.
Toronto City Councillor
Ward 22 – St. Paul’s