by Ryan Herbert
The TTC has announced its 2019 budget which includes a 10 cent fare increase for Presto users. The fare increase comes as the TTC’s budget revealed the agency will require a staggering $33 billion over the next 15 years to meet all of its capital needs. This comes as bad news to commuters who now have to pay $3.10 to ride the rocket, the cost of month passes on Presto are also expected to rise. However the TTC will not be making any changes to the current cash fare to use their services. Buses, street cars,and the subway will remain at $3.25.
An internal report that was obtained by the Toronto Star concluded that the TTC could be losing nearly $49 million a year through fare evasion.
I spoke the one rider, James, who did not want to be on camera, about fare evasion and he said, when he’s been waiting for a bus for 30 minutes in the cold and it pulls up at the stop and the back door opens, it’s easy to just walk in as someone else is getting off. James added he”does not feel obligated to pay for a bus that’s that late.”
Fare evasion also occurs a lot at subway stations. I spoke to another man Anthony, who also did not want to be on camera. He told me that at York University subway station there are sometimes up to “three people located at the fare booth” however they are busy “talking” and do not enforce the rules set out by the TTC. He added anyone can toss a dime in the fair booth and “Get on the TTC for 10 cents or less.” As a student, he said he welcomed not having to pay for transit. Fare evasion will be harder at some subway stations however as the TTC has begun removing cash fare booths and replacing them with Presto gates from Lawrence West and Yorkdale in 2017 and are slowly moving to do the same all the way up to York University.
The TTC is losing money for a number of reasons. The transit agency reached a new agreement with its employees which ensures things such as a 2% wage increase for every employee, be it a driver or a janitor, every year. That plus the new implementation of a two-hour transfer policy for Presto users that allows riders to tap their Presto card on buses and subways for free anytime within two hours of their first tap. However the biggest reason for the TTC’s revenue loss is fare evasion.
A lot of fault also lies with flawed Presto machines. It was reported by the Star that the TTC gave out at least 1.4 million free rides over the period of 2016 to 2018 because of defective technology. That’s a net loss of $4.2 million. In 2015 the TTC allowed children under 12 to use their services for free. Later that year, all-door boarding was initiated on street cars which further contributed to the problem of wage evasion, for obvious reason, because people would get on the back of a streetcar and not pay.
The TTC has admitted it is nearly impossible to police fare evasion on buses and street cars unless they hire around the clock personnel to look and make sure every single person boarding a bus or street car pays the exact amount to ride. The TTC has over 150 bus routes and 10 streetcar routes, each with multiple buses moving simultaneously. There are currently fines in place to curve fare evasion with tickets of up to $235 for failing to pay.