My TTC is… basic access & basic mobility

(This is a map of potential TTC service cuts by Ian Trider via the Torontoist. Solid red lines are routes which may be entirely eliminated. Broken red lines are routes which may be eliminated, but partially serviced by other routes. The yellow lines are routes which may have their service reduced. Click here to see a larger-size version.)

Basic access refers to people’s ability to access public services, health care, employment, education, social activities, and essential goods. Basic mobility refers to the physical travel that provides basic access. Both should be recognized as a fundamental right of every citizen in Toronto. The TTC plays an integral role in making that fundamental right a reality. Regrettably, the City’s financial crisis has backed the TTC into a corner which threatens every citizen’s basic access and mobility rights.

The map above shows over 50 routes which will either be completely eliminated, be partially eliminated, or have their service substantially reduced. (To see a full list of routes, click here.) The TTC’s strength has always been its vast, multi-modal network, which served diverse needs at different times of the day. So, at a time when we should be upgrading and expanding our network, (especially our Wheel-Trans service) we are now faced with the possibility of it being gutted.

Gutting the network could lead to irrevocable damage to the city as a whole, both tangible and intangible: former transit riders who become drivers and never look back; redistributed riders on already crowded routes; worsening gridlock; and longer commute times, which equals less personal time and exacerbates feelings of isolation for approximately 1.3 million riders a year.

I wonder how Torontonians would react if their water, hydro, fire, or ambulance service were threatened to the same extent as public transit. The TTC needs to be viewed as an essential service, on par with those just listed, so that cutting public transit is anathema.

Basic access and basic mobility are a fundamental right of every citizen in Toronto and the TTC is the best way of making sure those rights are upheld. Let your City Councillors know.

One way of informing City Councillors is to fill out both the TTC’s “My TTC is…” survey and the Torontoist’s more in-depth version. Another is to attend the TTC Commission meeting on Wednesday, September 12 (more details to follow), where they will be making a decision on service cuts. 


  1. The 1.3 million riders is a bit misleading. Really it’s 1.3 million trips.

    Even assuming that no one takes the TTC on weekends, 1.3 million is really just:

    1,300,000 / 250 work days / 2 trips (round trip) = 2600 people.

    Regardless it’s a shame that such cuts need to be taken. I know there has been some controversy about how these were actually selected, and perhaps it’s not exactly the lines which ‘used’ the most money, but just those which fit under some arcane TTC formula.

  2. Leo, could you provide a source for your statistics? Uncle Google says the TTC carries 1.3 million passengers daily, and Auntie Wikipedia (citing a TTC ridership report) says the subway alone carries 1,186,050 passenger trips each weekday.

    Which makes sense, given that 2600 people would work out to 4 fully-loaded subway trains on the Sheppard line. ( I’m sure we’d have noticed such luxury.

  3. It’s not about the number of people inconvenienced. It is about loss of service, when we should be increasing service.
    And even if it was “only” 2600 riders(I know it is higher), that is possibly 2600 extra cars on the road.

  4. Leo’s arithmetic is correct, but his logic is wrong.

    In 2006 the TTC carried 445M rides (linked multi-mode OD trips)

    445M rides/year à· 364 days/year = 1.22M rides/day à· 2 (round trips/person) = 610,000 persons/day riding the TTC. Leo logic error was dividing the average daily trips by 250 to get weekday trips. 1.3M in his example was already the daily rides… it should have been divided by 2 only (round trips) to get people.

    Over the course of a year ≈85% of Toronto residents take the TTC (my memory of foggy so don’t shoot me) so 85% X 2.45M resident ≈2.1M Torontonians take the TTC over the course of a year.

    This is not totally true as ≈10% of TTC trips are by 905 residents.

  5. One thing that I’ve wondered recently is why does the TTC still run the dozen or so bus routes north of Steeles? I know that some are on the list to eliminate, and admittedly, the routes made sense when there was little other transit in York Region, and numerous different systems, but now there’s one system (York Region Transit), and it’s much better developed.

    YRT should provide the service on all these routes, or provide the TTC funds to cover the operating costs (I’m assuming they don’t already?).

  6. Lee>The TTC routes in York Region are paid for by YRT. YRT sets the schedules, and is billed by the TTC. YRT tickets and passes can be used on the TTC buses in York Region. You have to pay a YRT fare to cross Steeles.
    Those are also important services, as it allows people to get to major employment centres in York Region, such as the Beaver Creek industrial park, without having to change buses at Steeles.

  7. “exacerbating the feelings of isolation for approximately 1.3 million riders a year” – golly, should we hold a vigil?

  8. My impression was that the service cuts would cut 1.3 million rides a year out of 450 million rides. That translates to about 2600 people affected who ride to work every day. Either the article is really misleading by saying that ALL people who ride the TTC would be affected by the cuts (absolutely not true) or all of you are plain wrong in your logic.

  9. Leo…

    Ooops… I made a mistake, in my response, mea culpa.

    I didn’t realize Craig Cal article referred to 1.3M RIDERS/year I was assuming he was referring to the oft-Press-quoted stat that the TTC carries 1.3–1.4M riders/weekday.

    That said your logic is still incorrect—sorry—but for a different reason as I explain below. It’s still the same result—the cuts will have a huge and devastating long term impact on TTC ridership.

    1.3M rides out of 445M total rides is, as you state, insignificant (0.29%).

    Rides however, do not equate to riders as you assume.

    There is a huge leveraging of riders (rides) thanks to passes (Metropass diary panels had 67X Metropass trip multiples several years back.)

    Metropass trip multiples are presently being re-evaluated by the TTC due to the seismic impact of transferability and tax-deductibility on pass usage.

    1.3M riders, out of ≈2.45M Toronto residents is a VERY significant number (53%). This is an estimate only as the TTC’s market research tracking surveys don’t examine route specific rider micro data.

    On a general basis, however, the tracking studies show about ≈90% of TTC rides are by 416 Toronto residents and ≈10% from 905 non-Toronto residents. SO the impact on 50% of Torontonians would be HUGE!

    For a better perspective on the importance of these “minor” routes as part of an integral TTC Network (as Craig Cal above and Steve Munro often write), see Mike Smith’s column “Ode to an empty bus” in this week’s NOW magazine:


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