Threat of TTC fare hike prompts online backlash

Public transit riders may be asked to dig deeper in their pockets if a proposed fare hike is approved by a city committee on November 17, 2009.

Riders could face fare increases of 25 cents, raising the total cost of the cash fare to $3.00. Tokens would increase similarly, up from $2.25 to $2.50 and the adult Metropass could increase to $126 per month, an increase of $17.

But if Nicole Winchester has her way, TTC buses and subway cars may feel a little emptier as of Friday if people participate in a transit strike.

Winchester, who is a frequent user of public transit, has created a blog and a Facebook group dedicated to getting people to protest the proposed fare increase by refraining from using TTC services for one whole day. So far, about 5,500 people have signed up.

She says if people are upset about paying more to get around the city, this is one way they can voice their outrage.

Winchester said “riders have accepted fare hikes in the past with grumbling, but little else. Why now? Because if we don’t say something sometime, we will be resigned to creases forever, until transit is no longer an affordable option.”

She also questions why the TTC is making Metropass holders, who she refers to as the most loyal of all TTC riders, to fork over almost $20 more a month.

TTC Chair Adam Giambrone has said the system needs an additional $100 million in revenues to prevent fare increases, but that the 25 cent increase would make up for just over half of that, or $62.5 million.

“Its fairly clear that people are unhappy with the fare increase,” he said. “Nobody at TTC wants to enact a fare increase, but there aren’t many other options.”

Giambrone said the city will be responsible for picking up the rest of the tab, but he’s unsure where they money will come from.

“The city hasn’t committed to it, but they are positive that we will find that $40 million,” adding that the province has yet to come to the table with operating funding.

In addition to this, the potential of a fare hike has prompted some riders to start stocking up on tokens by purchasing them in bulk. However, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) has recently implemented a rule of limiting token purchases at its stations and collector booths.

“Unfortunately, you’ll be limited to five at a time,” said TTC spokesperson Brad Ross. “This will ensure the TTC does not run out of tokens.”

“Running out of tokens isn’t an option,” he said, especially since the TTC phased out adult tickets back in September 2008.

Ross said the TTC doesn’t make new tokens, so it’s imperative that the tokens remain in circulation.

As for Friday’s strike, Giambrone said he’s aware of it but there hasn’t been a noticeable change in volume of passengers.

“The reality of this is that people need to get around. But I realize people may be upset (about the possbility of a fare hike.)”

The city will vote on the proposed fare increase on Tues. Nov. 17. The last fare increase took place back in April 2006 when the cash fare was raised by 25 cents to $2.75.