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TTC proposal’s lack of funding plan ‘not responsible,’ Tory says

Westbound King streetcars line up in traffic near Spadina Avenue.

FRED LUM/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Mayoral candidate John Tory is blasting Toronto's transit agency for proposing a number of service improvements without spelling out how to pay for them.

The criticism comes a day before the transit board is to vote on the report and prompted pushback from TTC head Andy Byford, who said it's not their role to create a funding plan.

The improvements the TTC are proposing include all-door boarding on all streetcars, reduced waiting times and a city-wide network of surface routes whose vehicles would come no more than 10 minutes apart. Mr. Tory said that some of the ideas jibed with his own thinking but was highly critical of the fact that the report didn't address how to fund these changes.

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"It's not responsible to ask people to consider a report that doesn't explain how it's going to be paid for," the candidate told reporters at a media event near Union station. "I think they do have an obligation to spell out what their expectations are as to where the money's going to come from."

However, Mr. Byford said that the report was intended to list the changes the transit agency feels would be worthwhile, if politicians were able to find the money.

"What we're saying is, we're just entering the 2015 budget round and these are improvements that should be considered," he said in a phone interview.

"We know that this would require funding from somewhere. What I wanted to do was show councillors what's possible, and therefore what they might wish to consider as part of the broader budget round. It's all about choices at the end of the day."

Mayoral candidate Olivia Chow praised the report for identifying improvements that can be done soon.

"Look, we really need change now," she said. "We can't go on, like the past four years, where we have no improvement of public transit. That's just not acceptable. And I'm really glad the TTC has put out a road map on how we can get people moving faster right now."

Mayor Rob Ford, who has staked much of his recent political capital on underground transit, took particular issue with the notion of all-door boarding on streetcars.

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"I have a major problem with the honour system," said the mayor, who is running for re-election. "We're going to lose a lot of money."

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