history ttc fares increase

How much TTC fares have increased in the last 25 years

The TTC has just approved another fare hike, the sixth in the last six years. While cash fares will remain fixed, the cost of a token will now come in at $3 and a Metropass will jump up to $146.25. We've become accustomed to annual fare increases, but when exactly did the TTC get so darn expensive?

If you go back to the birth of Toronto's subway system in 1954, TTC fares seem outrageously cheap. Adult cash fares were 15 cents, five tickets cost 50 cents, and students paid 55 cents for 10 tickets. When you factor in the rate of inflation, the difference is less dramatic, but it's also clear that our transit fares have increased at a much quicker pace, a trend that continues today.

It's more interesting to go back about 25 years for an indication of how TTC fares have increased. Rewind to 1990, and this is what the TTC fare package looked like: adult cash fare was $1.20, eight tokens cost $8, a Metropass was $53, and students paid $4 for eight tickets.

In other words, from 1990 to 2017, the cost of a TTC token will have increased from $1 to $3, which is 200 per cent, a rate that way outpaces that of inflation. There are obviously many factors at play here, but the big one is the erosion of TTC subsidies, a process which began in 1996 with the termination of the provincial subsidy under Mike Harris.

In six years, fares had increased to $2 cash, $16 for 10 tickets, $83 for a Metropass, and $10.70 for 10 student tickets. With no increase in service and raised fares, the initial effect was a drop in ridership, which typically a snowball effect: you need to raise fares to make up for lost revenue.

Ridership numbers eventually recovered through the 2000s and some fare relief came when the decision was made to make Metropasses transferrable (remember when you needed ID to use one?), but the glory days of cheap fares and superb rates of service relative to the city's population never returned.

By 2006, the adult cash fare was $2.75, 10 tokens cost $21, and a Metropass was $99.75. A decade later, those prices have increased by over 40 per cent. While service has improved, it certainly doesn't match the rate at which fares have risen.

This latest fare hike comes alongside the TTC's struggles to meet its ridership goals. Therein lies a scary scenario. Even with the fare hike, the Commission's budget is $61 million short, a hole that city council will have to figure out. One way to do so is to cut back some of the service restored in 2015, but that could be disastrous for both John Tory's political credibility and future ridership numbers.

Photo by MrDanMofo in the blogTO Flickr pool.


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