Those dimes add up

The temperature will not be the only thing rising this spring as transit fares are scheduled to increase once again. East York residents will have to start paying an additional dime for a ride on the public transit system effective March 1.

Toronto Mayor John Tory has announced that children under the age of 12 will be allowed to board the transit system for free — but for everyone else, there will be a ten-cent increase on all non-cash fares. This contradicts candidate Tory’s fall campaign promise of freezing TTC fares. Now Mayor Tory says the raise will help generate an additional $43 million dollars for the TTC. A portion of the money is projected to go toward increasing the number of buses on various routes to ease congestion during rush hour.

Currently, a single token costs $2.70, and that will change to $2.80. In turn, the price of an adult Metropass will climb by $7.75 to $141.50. Now $7.75 doesn’t seem like a lot — just the average cost of a lunch combo at McDonalds — but over the course of a year, it will add up to $93.

Like other communities, East York is home to a range of affluence. For example, according to the latest census data, Ward 26/Don Valley West has an unemployment rate of 12.3 per cent, which is higher than the Toronto rate of 9.8 per cent. And Ward 26 includes the neighbourhoods of Flemingdon Park and Thorncliffe Park, where 55 per cent of the population are immigrants — many struggling to establish themselves financially and otherwise. That makes them more likely to be transit users.

Immigrants come to Canada to make a better life for themselves and their families, and the steady increase of TTC fares over the past five years make it difficult to achieve financial stability. Although many adults will save on child transit fares, it will not matter in the long run because most of the elementary schools are walking distance and do not require a bus trip.

So with the municipal government apparently determined to increase transit fares, the federal and provincial governments may now have to do more for low-income families, with measures like improving child tax credits and increasing the minimum wage.