The Fixer: Taxpayers don’t pay for transit shelters, but the city earns cash from them


The Fixer: Taxpayers don’t pay for transit shelters, but the city earns cash from them

A lot of taxpayers think they’re on the hook for the $25,000 cost of a shelter, but Astral Media pays.

By:  The Fixer, Published on Sun Jan 20 2013
Transit shelters are a good deal for the city, which doesn’t pay for them and shares in the advertising revenue they earn.

We reported Thursday that no more one-sided transit shelters will be put up, which met with cheers from TTC riders who despise their lack of protection and consider them a waste of money.
But judging by comments posted to our online story, people are outraged by the $25,000 cost — even the one-sided shelters are nearly as pricey — and think the public is on the hook for them.
“How is it we are paying $25K for these things?” asked a reader. “We are clearly being ripped off or lied to.”
Uh, no. Astral Media pays for and maintains all 5,000 transit shelters it’ll erect under its 20-year contract with the city to provide street furniture, all of which the city ends up owning.
Even better, Astral will pay the city $400 million over the life of the deal, from the cash it earns by selling ad space on the sides of the shelters.
Reader comments also indicate that some think Astral put up the one-sided shelters to cheap out on its commitment.
Nope. Under Toronto’s vibrant streets program, shelters must not encroach on pedestrian space. Almost all the one-sided shelters already in place are in locations where a full-sized shelter won’t fit, under the program guidelines.
Some readers seem to think that when Astral and the city decided not to put up any more one-sided shelters, the 50 erected so far would be taken down.
All of them will remain, while the city still has the option of asking Astral to put up smaller shelters in other locations, if it wanted to.
We saved the best news for last. Carly Hinks, who’s in charge of street furniture for the city, said it recognizes there is still a need for some type of shelter in locations where a full-sized one won’t fit.
Astral and the city are trying to come up with a new design that will fit into a smaller space and provide more protection from weather than the one-sided model, said Hinks.

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