Thoughts on the TTC fare hike

Recently came the news that the TTC would be forced to increase their fares to offset higher operating costs, due to an expansion of service. This hike would result in an increase of the adult fare from $2.75/ride to $3.00/ride. Today, the commission will meet to determine ways in which to cover their operating costs.

Now, all transit systems that I know of in North America recieve some sort of government subsidy– it is the nature of the business. According to the City of Toronto, American systems recieve, on average, a 60% operating subsidy, while the TTC recieves a 20% subsidy, solely by the City. Obviously this is not nearly enough. In fact, apart from the TTC’s cousin GO Transit, very few transit systems have a cost-recovery ratio from the fare box as high as the TTC does.

What this means is that the TTC is relying on riders to cover much of their costs, and indeed, their increased costs. This can result in a tricky catch-22 type of situation– in order to carry more riders, costs must increase and therefore fares must increase, but fare increases dissuade ridership.

Let me be clear, I am not advocating against a fare increase. In fact, a quick study of fares for other services around the province shows that $3.00 for an adult fare is not that far out of line. However, what is out of line is the cost of a Metropass, the monthly pass– where 40% of the TTC’s fare revenue comes from. The proposed increase, as of Nov. 4th, was from a monthly cost of $109 to a monthly cost of $126. That means that a rider would have to be making 42 rides per month to break even. This is not how a monthly pass is supposed to work. Recently, Adam Giambrone, the TTC Commissioner, stated that he would like to see the raised Metropass fare to be only $121. I hope that he isn’t looking to be a hero by reducing a 15% fare increase by a measly $5.

For comparison’s sake, let’s just look at Montreal’s fare structure: cash fare, $2.75; 10 fares, $20.00; monthly pass, $68.50. Obviously, Montreal’s monthly pass is intended to reward riders for their frequent use of the service. The same can’t be said for the TTC; rather, it appears their monthly pass is a tool used to gouge their most loyal customers.

In summary, the adult fare should be increased to $3.00 a ride. The Metropass should not be increased to $126, and a case can be made that it shouldn’t be raised at all. The TTC’s operating subsidy needs to be increased; somehow, someway, it’s got to get done. Lastly, the TTC should look at 90-minute fares– that is, someone who just wanted to pop in to the grocery store for a few things and then go home should be able to use the same fare. This, in my opinion, will increase ridership and revenue, as people with choices (such as taking the car) will choose the TTC instead.

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