Metro/Irene Kuan A TTC subway train is seen approaching the platform at Bloor Station in Toronto, Ontario.

The Toronto Transit Commission is being urged to vote no Wednesday to a five-cent hike in the price of tokens and instead lobby the city to bump up its TTC operating subsidy.

The new, larger TTC board — which now includes four private citizens as well as seven politicians — is expected to approve a New Year’s fare increase that will add $2.50 to the price of a monthly Metropass.

The increase is expected to raise about $18 million annually.

Hiking fares penalizes transit riders for a service that benefits the entire city, says the TTCriders, a group representing transit users.

“Everyone who benefits from the TTC should help pay their fair share of TTC operating costs, not just TTC riders,” says a statement that goes on to urge the province to contribute to TTC operating costs as well.

The TTC receives a lower government subsidy on fares than any transit system in North America.

Toronto provided an 87-cent subsidy per rider in 2011 compared with $3.33 in Durham Region and $2.92 in Vancouver. Among major American cities, New York has the lowest subsidy at $1.25.

As ridership continues to climb, the city’s TTC subsidy has actually dropped since 2009 – to $416.2 million this year from $427.7 million, according to TTCriders.

The TTC is expecting its municipal operating subsidy to remain flat next year.

A budget report before the commission Wednesday shows the TTC is projecting about a $10 million operating shortfall.

In the absence of any provincial operating subsidy and a flat city subsidy, “commissioners turn to the only other revenue source available to them: the riders,” said the TTCriders.

“As a result, fares keep going up while service levels – at best – stay the same.”

The transit commission has already approved a 5-cent increase in the price of tokens to $2.65. Cash fares of $3 will remain the same.

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