Whether they want subways or streetcars, nearly all Torontonians seems to agree that the city needs more public transit. Just one hitch: apparently people don’t want to pay for the TTC we’ve already got. The transit commission announced yesterday that what they call “fare evasion”—riding for free—doubled over the last year. That means in 2010, the money lost tallied up to $22 million.
Transit officials are at a loss to explain the spike and hope that it’s just an anomaly. But late last year, the TTC launched a new Fare is Fair program, whereby transit enforcement officers are targeting common methods of cheating.
That includes the common practice of passing off invalid transfers by holding a thumb over the date or flashing it too quickly for the driver to notice.
Cheating usually increases when there’s been a fare change, but that wasn’t the case last year, TTC chief general manager Gary Webster said Tuesday.
The crackdown on fare scoffers has begun, it seems, with more rigorous enforcement of the proof of purchase (POP) rules hitting riders on the Queen 501 car—remember to get a transfer if paying in cash or tokens.
Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong has a theory as to why there’s been a spike in fare-skipping, according to the Toronto Sun: “I’ve talked to some bus drivers and they are telling me that some collection boxes have turned into donation boxes… and the TTC drivers are too scared, and there is too much confrontation.” All of this has us wondering why this story isn’t putting pressure on the TTC to adopt the Presto system—or at least more widespread use of those ancient-looking fare collection boxes that appeared in early 2010.