In last Monday’s column I predicted the TTC was going to hike fares in the new year. On Wednesday, the agency confirmed higher prices are going to a vote later this month. If approved by the commission, the changes would take effect Jan. 3.
The size of this increase is too much — around 16 per cent on the cost of a Metropass and 11 per cent for tokens. Riders have until Nov. 17 to make the case for a more reasonable price rise, especially on the monthly pass.
By skipping a fare hike in 2009, the TTC and city of Toronto likely made this one worse.
People on fixed or low incomes are affected by any boost in transport costs, but a double-digit rise hurts more. My hints to next year’s mayoral hopefuls: How about yearly TTC increases (near the rate of inflation) as well as adding transit experts to the board that oversees the agency’s huge budget? The commission is the only major city body made up solely of councillors — people with strong business backgrounds are missing.
Predictability might ease the pain of surprise hikes — could it reduce token hoarding, too?
After announcing its plan to change prices last week, the TTC limited token purchases to 10 per customer. But the absence of adult tickets (eliminated in 2008) means there is no backup fare medium if token supplies run low.
Speaking of predictions, I’m uneasy about another TTC plan: To install fraud-detection devices on surface vehicles. Starting early next year, riders will have to swipe their Metropasses instead of just showing them to drivers. Updated fareboxes are to be gradually installed across the fleet, which can also spit back fake tokens.
While no engineer, I am concerned that boarding will take longer. If each passenger needs a few extra seconds to verify their fare, I can see this time multiplying on busy routes.
Spokesperson Brad Ross says the TTC has not modelled any potential delays, which I find indefensible. He tells In Transit, “We’ll do those studies and impacts, but if it means weeding out fare evaders, that’s a small price.”
To read Brad Ross' replies about the anti-fraud plan, see http://www.metronews.ca/eddrass
The idea of people not paying their fare is irksome, but what if detecting fraudsters slows down your trip? Comment at metronews.ca/intransit.