ttc fare evasion

TTC about to unleash fare inspectors again with fines up to $425

If you've been scamming free rides out of the TTC during the recent period of relaxed fare inspection, it might be time to recalculate your commuting budget, as the transit agency has announced that it will be cracking down on fare evasion with fines of up to $425.

The TTC announced on Monday that it would be reintroducing stiff fines for fare evasion, stating that enforcement would focus on tactics like illegal entry into a subway station through a bus bay and boarding buses/streetcars or entering a fare gate without paying.

Even riders using a fare that they do not qualify for are subject to hefty fines, so make sure you pay your full age-appropriate fare if you want to stay out of trouble with TTC fare inspectors.

Not that the TTC should need to justify fare enforcement, but the transit agency has been hemorrhaging money since even before the first lockdowns hit the city.

According to an auditor's report, the TTC lost over $70 million on fare evasion in 2019 alone, and that was before ridership plummeted in 2020, staying well below pre-pandemic averages through mid-2022.

"The fares we collect help us limit fare increases, deliver service and maintain and our system," reads the TTC announcement. "When you don't pay your fare, you impact our ability to do this."

Fare inspections on the TTC were halted in mid-March 2020, with officers reassigned to educate and enforce mask compliance. Proof-of-payment inspections resumed later that year, though not without controversy, when photos emerged of unmasked inspectors spewing their unfiltered breath onto a subway train.

The TTC's fare inspection methods fell under scrutiny in spring 2021, when a U of T report's data revealed that "Black and Indigenous riders were over-represented in enforcement incidents," triggering a promise of an internal review and changes from within the transit agency.

The reintroduction of fines for fare evasion will be accompanied by new methods the TTC claims are more "equitable," in what appears to be a direct response to the damning U of T report.

The TTC's Stuart Green tells blogTO that, "over the last two years, we've been developing new fare inspection protocols for training, ticketing and cautions, ensuring the practice is equitable for all customers while allowing us to collect important demographic information."

"With that now nearly complete and ready to roll out, we will phase-in full inspection and ticketing activities this Fall starting with a focus on areas of the streetcar network with high employment in the downtown core."

"A communications/marketing campaign is being developed and we will advise customers when they can expect to see ticketing resume."

Lead photo by

Stephen Gardiner

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