09/13/2011 02:16 EDT | Updated 11/13/2011 05:12 EST

TTC mulls job cuts, fare hikes

The Toronto Transit Commission plans to reduce the frequency of transit routes, hike fares and eliminate hundreds of jobs as the transit company looks for ways to slash billions of dollars from its operating and capital budgets.

The cuts are laid out in a report set to be debated by TTC brass on Friday, but was released days ahead of the meeting after most of the report was leaked to a local newspaper.

Among the recommendations are plans to reduce the frequency of transit service and raise the price of tokens by 10 cents. There will also be cuts to 311 jobs, including management, professional, technical and clerical positions, plus a further 171 frontline jobs. The TTC will also delay the purchase of vehicles and reduce access to the Wheel-Trans vehicles for dialysis patients.

TTC chairman Gary Webster said the frontline job cuts would occur though attrition, while a voluntary separation package is also being prepared for non-unionized employees. Details of the voluntary separation package will be released next week.

"We will also do everything we can to find job matches for those directly affected by the elimination of their position by assessing current vacancies, as well as vacancies created as a result of those voluntarily leaving the TTC," Webster said in a letter to employees.

"We are trying to be sensitive through this difficult process, as the impact on those affected will be tremendous."

Webster said the TTC has also begun to look at other aspects of the operation that can be contracted out for future savings. That decision will be made in 2012.

'Very difficult process'

"This has been a very difficult process, and I fully understand the anxiety many of you may be feeling today," Webster said.

The need to cut services and jobs at the country's biggest transit commission comes as ridership is expected to grow by more than three per cent next year to 502 million rides.

However, Webster assured that "there are no routes being cut in this proposed budget."

The cuts are part of the commission's need to meet the city's request to cut the TTC's $1.4-billion operating budget and to reduce a $1.5-billion budget shortfall.

The review comes as the city faces a $774-million budget shortfall.