TTC board wants to hike most fares by ten cents in March
Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Friday, December 13, 2019 4:58PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, December 14, 2019 6:37AM EST
The TTC is recommending a ten cent increase to all fares except the adult single cash fare of $3.25 starting in March 2020.
The move, which the board says is needed to fund service improvements, capital projects and the resulting hiring of the equivalent of 142 new full-time staff.
As a result, adult Presto card fares would increase to $3.20 per ride, a monthly adult PRESTO pass would increase to $156, a youth or senior PRESTO fare would increase to $2.25 and youth or senior cash fares would increase to $2.30.
In exchange, the commission says it has added bus service, launched Sunday morning subway service an hour earlier and increased reliability on bus, streetcar, and subway routes considerably this year.
But TTC staff concede that many people who pay the adult cash fare are unable to acquire PRESTO cards due to technological constraints, and therefore the adult cash fare will remain at the same level it has been since 2016.
“We are also aware that the recommended fare increase will be an affordability issue for some TTC customers. This may be particularly true for low-income customers who rely on cash as their fare payment. To ensure continued affordability and access, there will be no change in adult cash fare which will remain at $3.25,” staff wrote.
Staff say the fare increase will raise $31.4 million.
The TTC’s operating budget will be $2.14 billion in 2020, a 4.1 per cent increase over 2019.
Since a scathing report by the city’s auditor general suggested fare evasion was more prevalent than previously thought, the TTC has been cracking down on fare evaders.
The 2020 budget calls for the hiring of 50 new fare inspectors, at a cost of $3.2 million, that will add $7 million in new revenue based on the tickets they write.
The report says fare inspectors will use a “progressive model” of enforcement, escalating from educationto formal warnings to tickets, but anyone caught using the wrong fare media (i.e. an adult using child PRESTO card) will be ticketed immediately.
As of October 2019, 84 per cent of all TTC users had a Presto card, up from 23 per cent at the start of 2018.
Toronto Mayor John Tory issued a statement Friday saying he would support the TTC’s draft budget, especially the hiring of fare inspectors.
“I welcome the fact that the TTC's proposed 2020 budget would hire an additional 50 transit enforcement officers specifically to crack down on fare evasion,” he said. “It is totally unacceptable for people to ride the TTC without paying their fare – it is theft - and reports of fare evasion this year have been outrageous and infuriating.”
Ontario NDP transit critic Jessica Bell said in a statement that the Ford government’s refusal to contribute its fair share to transit is paving the way for the fare hike.
“If this government actually wanted to help people get to where they need to go on time, if it actually wanted to solve congestion and help people afford fares, it would start fairly funding the TTC and transit agencies across Ontario,” said Bell.
Sean Meagher of TTCriders said the fare hike will discourage more people to take public transit.
“Our members are really concern about this. Ten cents doesn’t sound like much for a single ride but for an individual, that’s going to be $50 a year. For a family, it’s going to be a $100 a year and for working families that could mean a lot,” Meagher said.
He said the group will be reaching out to riders to encourage them to talk to their local councillors and ask them to make transit affordable.
“I think making things less affordable is not necessarily the best way to stop people from evading fares.”
The TTC board will meet to consider the draft budget this Monday at City Hall at 9:30 a.m.