Big cuts likely if London transit holds to city budget request
LONDON, Ont. -- It’s a two-sided state of mind for London Councillor Phil Squire, as he reflects on a massive London Transit Commission (LTC) budget shortfall that could impact thousands of riders.
Squire sits on the LTC board.
On one side of the coin, he sees the concerns of taxpayers in the face of a potential 7.4 per cent funding increase for transit.
One the flipside, he recognizes the demands on the LTC to maintain and grow services.
“There's about a $5- to $7-million shortfall, primarily in the first year. So, that is going to have to be dealt with."
City councillors are preparing to open the multi-year budget, and have asked London’s agencies, including the LTC, to come in with a budget increase of – no more than - 1.5 per cent.
But a report to the LTC this Wednesday, spells out the impact holding to that increase would have on service - significant cuts.
The report argues it’s the best use of resources to reduce services where ridership is currently low.
But Squire believes cuts can be avoided with some compromise, pointing out the LTC has already found ways to reduce its funding request amidst intense pressure to expanded service with the pending arrival of Bus Rapid Transit.
“I would argue that transit may be a more important service than some other services the city has. We're going to have to debate that. So, I don't necessarily say there is going to be a tax increase, but I think there is going to be a lot of hard work."