The city will offer an additional 23,000 low income Torontonians access to its discounted TTC fare program, a move that Mayor John Tory says will “make life more affordable” for residents who are struggling to get by.

Tory made the announcement at the Alexandra Park Early Learning & Child Care Centre on Thursday morning.

The discounted fare program was previously offered to 150,000 residents who receive payments through Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program but the program will now be expanded to the 23,000 Torontonians who receive child care subsidies.

It should be noted that the families of the 17,284 children on the wait list for subsidized child care spots will not be eligible for the discount.

Tory conceded that it is unfortunate that the program cannot be expanded to those people as well but he said that it would be impossible to verify their incomes for the purpose of determining eligibility, at least for now.

“The City of Toronto and its residents know that an affordable and reliable transit system is key to everyday life because it connects people to jobs, to services and just to life in the city. If they can’t afford transit they may not, for example, be able to take a specific job or go to a necessary medical appointment and these are things that are going to help lift people out of poverty,” Tory said. “That is why we introduced the fare pass discount program, that is why we introduced the kids ride free program and that is one of the reason we introduced the two-hour transfer.”

Participants can save nearly $32 on monthly pass

The discounted TTC fare program was launched in April, 2018 as part of the city’s poverty reduction strategy.

Eligible residents can receive a Presto card, which entitles them to a one-third discount on the cost of a adult fare. The discount drops the cost of a single adult fare by about a dollar to $2.05 and it reduces the cost of a monthly pass by almost $32 to $119.40.

Tory said that the hope is to eventually expand the eligibility for the program to all low-income residents, though he said those efforts have been complicated by actually identifying low-income Torontonians.

“It is frustrating that you can’t just get the information readily but the fact is that it is complex and I know that our officials are working very hard to try to address these issues, so that we can extend it to the entire group,” he said, noting that income information will have to be provided by Revenue Canada. “It will be extended as soon as we get these issues resolved but it taking some time to do that.”

Tory said that staff have already begun notifying childcare subsidy recipients of their eligibility for the fare pass discount program and will continue to do so over the coming days and weeks.

He said that the cost of extending the discounted fare program to the subsidy recipients will be $2.4 million a year, bringing the annual cost of all of the TTC’s various fare discount programs to $25 million.

“This investment is going to earn a substantial return in terms of people that will now have access to this program that I think will help them not only have their life be more affordable but also be more mobile in the city,” he said.

More than 150,000 Torontonians have been eligible for the program since April, 2018, though only 62,000 have signed up so far.