ttc fare

This is why TTC fare machines don't give change back

Have you ever hopped on the streetcar with every intention of paying your fare, only to discover that you don't have exact change so you can't buy a single ticket — leaving you no choice but to participate in fare evasion?

If you take transit in this city then this has probably happened to you, and it's left many wondering why all the fare machines that allow you to pay cash — including the ones on brand new streetcars — require exact change, especially considering the TTC is so hell-bent on eliminating fare evasion

Many Toronto commuters have expressed their frustration about the subject on social media, with some even saying the system seems to be built to make it painfully difficult to pay your fare. 

"You know the TTC is behind the times when some shops don’t even do cash, but you’re expected to have *exact change* to pay. I use Presto but what do you expect occasional riders or those who left their Presto at home to do? Also sometimes it’s too crowded to reach the machines," one transit user wrote online.

"The system seems designed to create non payment of fares. Me: I have a handful of change, a $5 bill, a debit card, and a credit card. The machine only accepts change, but my loonies are special it won't take them. TTC: you are a criminal," another said.

So if the City, the TTC and Metrolinx are as determined to curb the issue of fare evasion (and stop losing so much money) as they say they are, then why don't fare machines provide change?

The answer isn't simple, but it does (obviously) have something to do with the cost of a machine that's equipped to do so.

"That machine then has to be regularly stocked with money. This way, all they do is empty it," Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins said.

"It’s just more costly to implement a hybrid system like that. Having it so that you pay multiple ways is just a more expensive undertaking."

And you might think that even though older TTC vehicles don't have fare machines that give change, the new streetcars most certainly should. 

But according to Metrolinx, they were made that way to ensure consistency across all transit vehicles. 

"The reason the machines on our streetcars do not provide change is because customers are required to pay exact fare on our buses and Wheel Trans vehicles without receiving change back," said Heather Brown, the manager of customer communications for the TTC.

"So to remain in line with our existing fare policy and ensure the customer experience is the same across all modes, the decision was made not to provide change from these machines."

And despite endless complaints and confusion from riders, Aikins told me she knows of no plans to introduce new machines that don't require exact change anytime soon. 

Lead photo by

Lauren O'Neil


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