Soknacki's early bird TTC freebies would cost $20-million/year

Does not take into account revenue from return fares, new riders


Toronto mayoral candidate David Soknacki estimates his plan to offer free TTC rides to early risers would cost $20-million dollars a year.

Soknacki introduced the idea on Friday, but with no dollar figure attached. He revealed the pricetag Sunday as a guest on Newstalk 1010's Mark Towhey Show.

"We've calculated 20 million dollars maximum for that free one hour," explained Soknacki. "That doesn't include the revenue coming back or new revenue from new riders to the system."

Soknacki's proposal would allow riders to bypass the fare box on buses, streetcars, and before boarding a subway between 6 am and 7 am. He believes the free ride will be an incentive to people who already ride the TTC to re-jig the hours of their commute,  providing some relief for the morning rush. The hope is the freebies will also encourage people who do not typically take the TTC to use it at other times of day too.

The cost of free rides for early-risers would come out of the TTC budget. Soknacki says he will have a fully-costed platform by the end of the campaign period and that he is "committed to a balanced budget for the city."

The mayoral hopeful wants to move from free rides in the 6 am hour, to discounted ones once the Presto fare system is up and running in Toronto Soknacki would also like to use existing GPS technology to stop the "bunching" of empty buses and streetcars and to test out rear-door entry on them city-wide in an effort to speed up the boarding process.

Lumped together, Soknacki says those moves represent part one of his three-part plan to tackle gridlock.  Parts two and three will be detailed this week.

Last month, Soknacki proposed banning street parking in downtown Toronto to keep cars moving and to free up space for cyclists.  He figures new lots and garages would be built to accommodate the cars left with no place to park in the core.

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  1. dama posted on 07/21/2014 08:03 AM
    Now you know why he is low in the polls..and he has to come up
    with "extra-ordinary" ideas to get his 15 minutes of fame...

    $20 million from TTC operating budget? when TTC is already crying poor..
    and seriously one hour from 6 am to 7 am will solve the gridlock issue?
    Most people are still asleep during this period...

    1. Christopher posted on 07/21/2014 10:31 AM
      @dama First of all, you are not taking into account return fares. It would be free only in the morning, to encourage people to coming into work earlier and reduce the amount of congestion on the system. Congesting that is estimated to be costing Toronto $7.5-11 billion in lost revenue. Spending $20 million to see the lost revenues returned to the fold is a tiny price to pay.

      It's people who don't look for novel solutions, or denounce every one of them while not offering up one any their own that keep that lost revenue of all our hands.
    2. dama posted on 07/21/2014 10:50 AM
      @Christopher and seriously that ONE hour will ease the congestion?
      and save a few million dollars in productivities and revenue.. ..
    3. tanjo posted on 07/21/2014 11:39 AM
      @dama Take a look at this critically. He just presented the worst case scenario, ignoring what I would consider to be significant mitigating factors.

      From a fiscally conservative perspective, he is about as sound as you are going to get from City Hall.

      However, if wants to be elected, he should at least be putting some projected recovery numbers out there. At this point, I would love to see him in as a budget chief or on the committee, but I he needs to improve his selling technique if he wants to be mayor.
    4. dama posted on 07/21/2014 01:39 PM
      @tanjo Every mayoralty candidates are talking about the gridlock and how, if elected, they will go about doing it.. and David Soknacki's LRT and parking ban(hard to implement) and now free ride from 6 am to 7 am( not feasible) are his campaign platforms..

      Getting rid off or easing gridlock takes a lot of money.. and building subway or LRT in GTA will help but not totally.. what will really help, is to build subways from outskirts of Mississauga, Brampton, Ajax, Pickering, with multi level condos for parking.. then people will take subways into GTA to work,, concerts, ball games and then some..

      Expensive.. you bet.. and that will solve gridlock issues on 400 series and GTA inner roads..
  2. Frankie posted on 07/21/2014 10:40 AM
    His idea sounds good but execution is poor. How about having the highest fares during rush hour and lower fares off-peak, rather than freebies?
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