Citing an increase in ridership, the Toronto Transit Commission asked the City of Toronto for more cash Tuesday to relieve the strain on the current system.

Representatives from the TTC approached the city's budget committee for an additional $600,000 to handle overcrowding in the system.

The transit system is expecting a 5 per cent increase in transit users this year alone.

It is estimated ridership numbers have not been this high since 1990.

Representatives with the TTC say the growth is a good sign for the city.

"I think this is very very positive. This is all consistent with people shifting on the transit, getting out of their cars and hopefully addressing some of the congestion," Gary Webster, Toronto Transit Commission General Manager, said Tuesday.

The TTC is projecting 462 million riders this year, which is a 17 million person increase from last year's levels.

Those numbers are expected to increase by 15 to 20 million by 2008.

"That's a very big number. So, yes we are at an unprecedented growth rate," Webster said.

To handle the demand, the TTC will have to put an extra eight buses on the road this year.

Webster credits the freeze on metro pass prices for the increase.

Toronto's rise in ridership is in conjunction with an overall increase in public transit usage throughout Canada.

The Canadian Urban Transit Association says preliminary figures for 2006 show there were 1.7 billion trips nationally, a 3.21 per cent increase.

With a report from CTV's Desmond Brown