TTC prices a fare raise

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is planning to increase its fares starting in Jan. 2010, the Globe and Mail reported Nov. 16. If the fee increase is approved, individual adult fares will rise from $2.75 to $3.00.

The TTC is also putting forth a motion to extend discounted rates for high school students to include university and college students.

In anticipation of customers wanting to stockpile tokens purchased before the new fare comes into effect, the TTC has implemented a rationing strategy. Per visit, customers are limited to purchases of five tokens each at booths, and one token each at mechanical dispensers. The TTC relies on the circulation of about 400,000 tokens each day to avoid running out, and rationing has resulted in long ticket-purchasing lines at rush hour. The TTC’s choice to extend student rates to those in post-secondary studies is a logical and long overdue step. Because the majority of college and university students are young adults trying to support themselves with little cash, it makes even more sense to offer this demographic discounts than to cut the tab for high school students.

Stockpiling tokens is counterproductive in a system that relies on their broad circulation to function. But the hoarding problem also highlights the token system’s archaic nature. The TTC should consider the more modern and convenient payment options seen in other major metropolises, like Paris.

It’s easy to dismiss the TTC as a service with few visible improvements to show for its rising costs. But commuters should look to the federal and provincial governments who spearhead extension projects as the source of the need for increasing fares.

Working to develop the TTC’s infrastructure should be an important priority. By extending service to new areas, more of Toronto’s suburban population can take advantage of public transit.

The TTC is actively undertaking new initiatives in infrastructure that depend on fare hikes like the one proposed for Jan. 2010. It’s the lag time between these developments being financed and being useable that creates conflict for commuters looking to get the improvements they pay for.

Without a ticket price increase, the TTC’s quality would suffer. To maintain and improve its standard of service, the TTC’s fare hike should be considered fair game.

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