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City to consider reduced TTC fare for low income riders

Posted by Derek Flack / July 9, 2014

discount ttc fareIs a discounted TTC fare in the cards for low income transit riders? It could very well be thanks to a 35-3 vote from city council to put the idea up for study by city staff and the TTC. The three dissenting councillors were Glenn De Baeremaeker, Lindsay Luby, and Peter Leon.

With the report not due until 2015, implementing such a system is still years away even if it wins final approval from city council. Voting in favour of conducting a report is, of course, very different from voting to further subsidize a transit agency that's already well underfunded. The TTC, for its part, is happy to participate in the study, though it has no interest in covering the lost revenue that would result from a discounted fare.

The other complicating factor is how exactly such a discounted fare might be rolled out. Some councillors support a reduced rate only at down times on the system. And with Presto unlikely to be rolled out en masse until 2019, there will likely be some hesitation to roll out a special time-of-travel-based fare until that system is in place. So right now it's just a socially progressive idea, but one that's guaranteed to be discussed by council next year.

What do you think? Can Toronto afford to offer special fares for low income residents?

Photo by Mike Campbell



Janice / July 9, 2014 at 12:39 pm
Absolutely there should be a low-income fare, a disabled person's fare, a much cheaper senior fare. Taking a dollar or two off isn't a reasonable discount - it's punitive for many. Let's see 50% or something more in line with what people earn if they are low-earners.
gayguy8 / July 9, 2014 at 12:54 pm
Yes, now I can eventually afford to take the TTC to my minimum wage paying job for the 4 hours allocated to me.
iSkyscraper / July 9, 2014 at 01:00 pm
The TTC should do what other cities do, not reinvent the wheel. To the extent that Calgary and Edmonton offer low-income fares, great. Study those programs, decide if they have been worthwhile and successful, and what the pros and cons are. Then act accordingly.

Personally, I feel there is far more precedent and merit for senior discounts (free in Philly and Miami, certain times free in Ottawa) than for purely low-income consideration.
iSkyscraper / July 9, 2014 at 01:07 pm
By the way, in case the TTC is too lazy to use google, here is the link to Calgary's low-income pass and the associated costs and rules:

And Edmonton (which is only for low-income seniors or low-income handicapped):
Achan / July 9, 2014 at 01:08 pm
ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Why not just make drivers pay more when they drive into the city? And keep TTC fares the same - stop hiking up the price. Or better yet, rather than reduced fare for "low income" riders, just create a fair system where you pay for the distance you travel.
TTC replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / July 9, 2014 at 01:28 pm
Thanks for the tip, we regularly check blogto comment threads for advice. We don't know what we would do without you scraper
come on. / July 9, 2014 at 01:39 pm
Jesus, how much lower can it go?

The low income types already have FREE fare.

Its called using the backdoors of the streetcars.
Jeff / July 9, 2014 at 01:41 pm
This is a social assistance issue, not a transit issue. If we consider transportation a basic need, then maybe the welfare funding formula needs to be changed to account for transportation. Let the TTC focus on trying to operate the system, and let Ontario Works focus on helping people in need.
Deric / July 9, 2014 at 02:03 pm
I actually do not agree with an all-around low-income fare - but do agree with the low-income senior fare.

People will take advantage of this - and it will eat into a huge portion of TTC revenue (who despite this year's anomoly, are cash-strapped). The TTC has a reasonable (when compared to most GTHA transit systems) cost already, and Ontario's social assistance has transportation allowances built in for those that cannot/do not work.

Progressive idea - but I do not trust Toronto to put something so political in place.
Brianna / July 9, 2014 at 02:56 pm
I think that a lower fare for those who need it is a wonderful idea and should be subsidized by additional allocation of funds to OW/ODSP/Pension.

Yes, there is already funding you can apply for to get transit costs. But you know what? Very few people actually get it covered. We're told that we have to pay out of pocket every month, then try and get reimbursed... which never happens. Those of us who need those funds from the system, we're walked all over. I needed transportation funding for medical reasons where I needed it at least 3 days a week. I was flat told no, my surgery and recovery wasn't their problem. So yes, TTC and these systems need to work together to find the answer.
Reg / July 9, 2014 at 04:22 pm
subsidized housing, subsidized daycare, subsidized food and now subsidized ttc, just enough to keep my flying just low enough to get the benefits and not high enough to pass over them...
James / July 9, 2014 at 05:17 pm
It would help job seekers and volunteer workers in their search to be out there more often. Off hours would be fine.
BARB / July 9, 2014 at 06:10 pm
Why can't we just have lower fares so that people will buy a pass without calculating if it is worthwhile. Right now,to get your money back you need to ride the TTC at least 49 times to make your money back. That's great if you are using it for work.

What is we kept the passes at a low price but increased the amount for tokens. Make it so, I want to buy a pass. Say $90. Yes, it's a 30% discount but it should be.
seanm replying to a comment from BARB / July 9, 2014 at 06:40 pm
This is a good point. When I was taking the TTC daily, to and from work 5 times a week, it was still cheaper to buy tokens for the same amount of rides. The extra money to get the pass wasn't worth it since I could just bike or walk to do everything else.
Sam / July 9, 2014 at 06:50 pm
Awesome news for those of us that work for under the table wages!
tnt / July 9, 2014 at 07:23 pm
Money for smokes, booze,and cell phones,but not to travel eh?
Spike / July 9, 2014 at 08:30 pm
Because it bears repeating (especially for those who have no love for others that are not as fortunate as they are):

"If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich."

John F. Kennedy

meme / July 9, 2014 at 08:40 pm
Making fun of poor people. You are all stunning examples of humanity.
JamesVR replying to a comment from meme / July 9, 2014 at 10:02 pm
Who is making fun of poor people? Many are stating facts that we know but don't speak for all poor people. I know many poor people that have iPhones they cant afford, spend their government assistance cheques on lottery tickets and scratch cards many of which are focused on today and not doing anything for their tomorrow. Prime example cashing cheques at Money Mart and taking a cut on the amount instead of waiting 3 days for a regular bank to process it, this isn't out of urgency its out of lack of patience. They bitch and complain about finances but are the first ones to get a new Xbox, ebike, etc.

I know not all poor people do this but many of the ones around me do. No sacrifice no reward.
shaughn / July 11, 2014 at 12:28 pm
I think a discounted travel time is a bad idea as most low income people work minimum wage jobs and their hours are not stable.

On the issue of poorer people having nice stuff. Who are you to judge how they actually got their things. It could be a gift, second hand bought, It could have been lost by another and found. The point is IT'S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. Buying and having nice things makes you feel alittle bit more human in a world where you are defined by what you own and how you present yourself.
Allan Harmsworth replying to a comment from JamesVR / July 12, 2014 at 06:34 am
@JamesVR possible the reason they are poor in the first place is that they cannot manage money. Maybe instead of punishing them further, offer training in how to budget, save money grocery shopping and cooking, using a bank account, etc. Nobody gets financial training in schools, then where does one get it, just absorb it from the air? Most of us are just a slip or fall away from being disabled and unable to work, or subject to mental disorders that strike out of the blue through no fault of our own.
Yes replying to a comment from Allan Harmsworth / July 12, 2014 at 11:19 am
Yes, all poor people are poor because they're spending their money on luxury goods. You've cracked it. They are all buying brie and caviar. If they stopped throwing their money around like millionaires, maybe they wouldn't be so poor!
Spike replying to a comment from Yes / July 12, 2014 at 11:51 am
Sorry, that's bullshit, even for you.
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