ttc fare evasion

Why are TTC fare evasion fines so much higher than Toronto parking tickets?

If you hop aboard a Toronto public transit vehicle without paying the requisite $3.25, transit enforcement officers could ding you with a $425 fine.

Drivers, on the other hand, would get a measly $30 ticket for parking in a Green P spot without paying for it.

It's ludicrous when you think about it, and a lot of people are in fact thinking about it right now.

Michael Ranger highlighted the staggering discrepancy in a piece published by The Star's last week entitled "Analysis: Is TTC fare evasion worse than a parking violation?"

In his analysis, Ranger points to Statistics Canada data showing that the median employment income for people who drive to work in Toronto is $47,696, while those who use public transit make a salary of $36,358, on average.

Yes, fare evasion is stealing, and yes, it costs the TTC a lot of money in the long run — as much as $50 million per year, by some estimations — but $425 ($250 if you simply lose your proof of payment) seems excessive to many when presented with such a comparison.

"Parking and driving tickets should be much higher and used to fund transit," replied one citizen in response to the article on Twitter.

"As for transit, people with disabilities, seniors and low-income should be riding for free. More often than not people are choosing to stay home because they can't afford to pay."

"Attacks like this on the poor are cruel and unusual punishment," wrote another.

There's also the issue with how fines are handed out — not by a gentle hand on the windshield, but by sometimes quite rude and aggressive fare inspectors.

TTC spokesperson Stuart Green told Ranger that the transit commission can't change or set fare evasion fines itself — that job goes to the province.

Parking ticket rates, on the other hand, are set by Toronto City Council.

The city uses money collected through parking fines to pay for services, but the TTC doesn't benefit from any money collected through the payment of fare evasion fines, according to Ranger.

It is unclear as to where that money goes and who it benefits.

Whatever the case, people aren't pleased about the steep cost of not paying for a single transit ride, especially given how glitchy the machines aboard streetcars have become.

"Now you can get a fine for trying to pay a machine that won't take your money and using a card that holds your money hostage for 24 hours," wrote Toronto resident Vicki Mochama in a widely-shared Twitter thread published on Monday.

"All of which would be the fine clownish chaos we've come to expect except that poor, racialized and immigrant people pick up these fines."

"The transit system is constantly starved for funding and the blame is often put on those who evade transit fares," said TTCriders spokesperson Vincent Puhakka to of the issue.

"We think the real evaders are the politicians who for years have starved the system."

Lead photo by

Adrian Badaraco

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