Eighteen months ago, COVID-19 emptied its streets and public transportation in Toronto. People are once again on the move as there are signs of a return to life in the city. Just the way they walk has changed. In this two-part series, Toronto Star transportation reporter Ben Spur examines your post-pandemic future. Today, he looks at the problems facing the TTC, and in part two tomorrow, the troubled return of gridlock.
When Mike Cole looks back on his time as TTC’s chairman, what he remembers is the feeling of “munching down on negativity.”
It was the early 1990s and the recession had hit Ontario badly. After years of gradual development, the number of passengers was declining as passengers suddenly found themselves out of work. Rent revenue was drying up and TTC leaders seemed helpless to stop the bleeding.
“It was really depressing and depressing. Every week we used to get reports… Unemployment is rising, and the number of TTC riders is going down,” said Cole, a current councilor who was president from 1992 to 1994. “Nothing seemed to work.”
As ridership numbers and fare revenue declined, TTC cut service. But the resulting less-reliable transit only pushed more riders away, further reducing the agency’s revenue, which became a downward spiral, Cole said. “It was a really dark period.”
Soon those dark days may come again. Although the TTC has begun to recover from the worst of COVID-19, experts say it remains at risk of falling into a “transit death spiral” – a vicious cycle set off when transit operators reduce service by reducing ridership. respond to the decline. . Less service makes transit less attractive, and riders soon find other ways to commute, generating less revenue, requiring more deductibles, and so forth.