Breaking News: TTC to make student fares fairer, Metropass to increase less

A campaign called Fair Student Fares is about to get what it wants out of the TTC and Metropasses won’t be increasing in price by quite as much as expected.

TTC chairman Adam Giambrone has informed Spacing that he will be introducing a motion at the November 17 TTC meeting calling for post-secondary education students to receive the same discount that high school students receive.

Giambrone also told Spacing that he will propose the TTC staff report recommending the price of a regular adult Metropass increase to $126 be reduced to $121, thereby maintaining the current trip multiple required to ‘break even’ on a Metropass.

“A fare increase of some degree will be unavoidable in 2010 even after savings and efficiencies are found,” Giambrone wrote via e-mail. “I will not support service cuts, as our riders tell us consistently that this is the last thing they want.”

“That said, I will also not be fully supporting the fare structure proposed by TTC staff. One of the things I support is keeping the Metropass at around $121, rather than $126. This is too much to ask of the TTC’s most loyal riders.”

With a $121 Metropass, the fare increase will bring in $50.4 million. $2.5 million will be required to pay for extending the high school discount to post-secondary students, which Giambrone says he has been working on with students for a lengthy period of time.

Under the current fare matrix, the savings for college and university students amounts to $17.75 per month or $7.75 for students who had been accessing the Volume Incentive Program. The discount will also apply to tickets and individual fares.

Given the logistics required to include post-secondary students in the discount program, a start date of September 2010 is expected. At present, high school students are required to purchase an identification card from the TTC each fall and present it when using discounted fare media.

Photograph by David Topping.

21 comments

  1. If this is true (I don’t mean the content of the article – I mean Mr. Giambrone’s intentions), I think this is fantastic! It’s about time post-secondary students, who I’m sure make up a substantial percentage of the TTC’s ridership, get some sort of break – apart from the very limited amount of Metropasses available at an insultingly reduced rate at some colleges and universities. I’m fairly certain Toronto is the only major city who’s post-secondary students have no perks…

    I have no doubt the campaign played a part in this. It proves the power of the group if we all band together!

  2. You realise that they pay $68 in Montreal for a monthly pass, right?

    We’re already getting hosed at $100.

  3. that doesn’t make any sense… i thought they’re trying to increase revenue not decrease it. i think he’s just buying votes, if the TTC is serious about the bottom line, they’d get rid of the transferable pass and wait a little longer before introducing the discounted post-secondary fares, the volume incentive program will have to do for now. that’s a massive loss of revenue if the post-sec rate goes through.

    i’m all for a lower increase on the metropass though. that was evil suggesting an increase to $126.

  4. It makes perfect sense to have a post-secondary education discount. Car companies as always seeking to put ads in frosh kits these days to promote vehicles. The TTC will benefit by fostering a culture of public transit among students. I don’t think that it will be a significant dip in funds when you consider that this will essentially abolish the Volume Incentive Plan (VIP) that is sold at students’ unions.

    This policy is smart, not too costly, and will no doubt help the TTC in the long run.

  5. Yikes!

    By “abolish the Volume Incentive Plan (VIP) that is sold at students’ unions”

    I mean

    Abolish the sales of the VIP at students’ union offices. Which is a good thing because the discount is not that significant, the line ups can be long, and it costs the students’ unions tens of thousands of dollars a year to run.

  6. For these fares, you should never experience a train with loud brakes and any litter.

  7. I think having the TTC suggest raising the Metropass price to $126 was a ploy all along.

    People got upset about a $17 increase, so Giambrone comes in and say he’ll only raise it $12 and be praised for it.

    If the TTC started out saying it would raise the fares $12 people would still be just as outraged, but now people will be happy that at least it’s not $17.

    A $12 increase to $121 is still ridiculous.

    And giving a discount to students while telling everyone else the TTC has no money is insulting.

  8. I agree, the 126 dollar metropass sounds a whole lot like the whole closing-the-Sheppard subway thing a couple years back. The real plan seems “not that bad” relative to the worst case presented.

    Re: University VIP lines: I’m a U of T employee, and we qualify for the discount metropass too. What about us? I must admit, right now we share the same line as the students (to the point where I often just buy it at the collectors booth – costs a bit more but doesn’t require timing and luck to get a short line). Hopefully this means no more waiting in insane lines backed up most of the way around Hart House circle.

  9. I think a marginal cut to service wouldn’t affect service satisfaction all that much. I had the opportunity to attend a lecture by the director of London’s Picadilly Subway line. His number one requirement for effective transit?: The ability for a service provider to set a standard and meet it. People are content as long as the service is PREDICTABLE. All other things, including high-frequency, are secondary. Otherwise the riders lose faith in the system.

    The way I see it, the TTC is not meeting it’s minimum standard of service; Even high frequency surface lines such as the 506 can’t be relied on, short turns and breakdowns are more predictable than smooth rides, and its anyone’s guess what their driver will be like. The TTC should lower its standards, even if only by cutting out a couple streetcars or buses an hour. Then it should absolutely ensure that the bus/streetcar comes when it says it will. I would much prefer a bus that I could rely on to come every 30 minutes, rather than a frequent service that runs anywhere from 3 minutes to half an hour.

  10. Andrew: I think the fact that staff at U of T are buying the metropass from the students’ union is a pretty big problem.

    I’m sure the university, either through the labour unions or on its own, could over this discount through the VIP. That was the students’ unions isn’t having to shoulder the costs for selling and operation the VIP program.

  11. Don’t suggest that the TTC cut service but guarantee it will run on time. They will do the former, but fail miserably on the latter. After all, they keep telling us they cannot guarantee service quality for operations in mixed traffic, and even the lines on their own rights-of-way, including the subway, get fouled up regularly.

  12. @Angela:
    TTC should first make the service predictable. Cutting frequency first is a no-go. Otherwise, we’ll end up with service that’s both unpredictable and infrequent.

    Ridership plummetted when TTC last tried cutting service in the 90s. Marginal routes are important. Not providing an effective network decreases the utility of transit.

  13. Even if there were $0.00 increase to the Metropass and the college student discount were implemented, the TTC would STILL be the most expensive major transit system in North America. That status is not acceptable!

    Do not stand for this — Toronto City Council should pass a law setting TTC salaries and fares at the median among a peer group of cities, and send an invoice to the feds/province for the rest. If anyone objects, vote them out of office.

  14. …. no thought given to reduced rates for people on disability, welfare, “working poor” at minimum wage jobs…. I guess the poor really are invisible and don’t count… sad, but that’s Toronto for you

  15. Povertysucks: any of the umpteen government and third-sector organizations working with the populations you mention could make subsidized fare media available to their clients. I don’t think the TTC should go down the road of creating additional tiers of discounted fares — or at least, not until it is using electronic fare collection.

  16. What would be worse is if Province paid x dollars so that all social assistance users got free/subsidised transit, we know for sure x will be less than the cost of providing that transit. If another level of government wants to create transit as a wider social service than it already is – let it pay cash upfront.

  17. I don’t trust him, I will not vote for him if he runs for mayor. If something is not done the TTC will continue to abuse its riders. Sounds cheap but an extra $12 a mth goes a long way for some!!! The city is becoming to expensive to live!

  18. TTC should have done a better job in ensuring on-time service. The Translink in Vancouver manages to have their buses stopping on the dot in the suburb Richmond and there is no reason why the TTC can’t do the same.
    TTC should investigate other channels of increasing revenues, other than increasing fares. Zone fares (e.g. Vancouver), real estate development on existing TTC premise (e.g. HK) and fare collection automation/smart card system (e.g. Montreal) are all options that can increase the income and bring down the cost.

    It may be off-topic: I always wonder if it is possible to introduce competitions to our transit system. Cities like Tokyo have multiple transit system running. People are complaining about TTC, not only because it’s inefficiently managed (that’s pretty much agreed by all parties), but also because of the lack of options. There is no other way (let alone better way) to get around if one doesn’t drive. Introducing competition would sure provide TTC to have more incentive to improve their service and efficiency. Moreover, Torontonians would not be held hostage AGAIN when it’s time for another TTC union contract negotiation (which will help to control the labour cost increase).

    Just my two cents.

  19. well, because the TTC is government owned, they don’t allow any other transit competition. Only if the TTC is privatize you will ever see another transit company in Toronto.

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