Reasons for the TTC’s Ever-Rising Fare: The Repercussions of Telling the Hike to “Take a Hike”
Here’s a riddle for you: name something that goes up but never comes down. If you’re a commuter living in Toronto, the answer is, invariably, our transit fares. Residents have been baffled by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) seemingly squeezing every dollar they can from riders. No matter what social media platform or news outlet you tune into, it is certain that you’ve seen headlines that criticize the TTC for their unreliable transit service. A brightly-lit ‘Out of Service’ display board shines unforgivingly at you atop those steel-bodied trains as they slowly make their way out of the station past you.
A group of young men, among whom was Canadian-born Eritrean rap artist “6ixReacts,” published a two-minute video on YouTube and other sites on May 7, 2018 which sparked an internal investigation by the TTC. The video, featuring a diss track titled ‘NYEAH EH’, was aimed at TTC workers in complete distaste for the commission’s policies. The lyrics insinuated that the artists would commit offences in response to their disapproval to the TTC. A fragment of the diss track has 6ixReacts say, “Two bones? ‘Imma walk in for free.”
The fare hike has caused near-irreparable damage to the commission’s public image, as if it wasn’t already ruined since the beginning. This line from the diss track has made it evident that a fare hike, while the TTC has not made any attempt to improve service, is absurd
Transit users, who have become frustrated handing over their fare in exchange for a sardine-packed bus ride, have found other ways of getting on public transit. Their bus ride may go great lengths, but so will riders in their attempts to evade the $3.25 bus fare, required for those ages 20 to 65. An incident on April 12 was captured on video depicting a man grabbing hold of the exterior of the bus to ride in for free in the middle of the evening. The representative of the TTC, Brad Ross, commented on the foolishness, remarking the ordeal as being “a reckless, dangerous and stupid stunt.” In the long run, it means millions of dollars in revenue being lost annually due to fare evaders not pitching in their share to fund a shared transit network. A portion of that revenue lost, if it weren’t for evaders, could have been allocated towards oh, I don’t know, much-needed repairs!
So, while it is unclear exactly where our transit fare money is going, if the TTC wants to improve their service without having to continually put a burden on riders’ wallets, I propose the following idea: I envision training drivers to manage their time better. This can be done by the commission facilitating specialized simulations and studies to evaluate the speed, evaluate the distance between each bus, and analyze traffic data for certain times of the day. The TTC would then deploy practices according to those peak times and observations that would alleviate, what appears to riders as, inconsistent scheduling. Traffic, for instance, is a variable that drivers cannot control, so you cannot degrade your bus driver for arriving seven minutes late. I found an article during the development of this editorial piece, in which it was discovered that the TTC sought another approach to ease their tardiness. It involves using an autopilot-like system to operate subway trains by controlling variables such as speed and stopping time. The catch: a $563-million cost to implement this system-wide. I recall glimpsing the phrase, ‘Free TTC’ in the header of a Toronto Star release, but with everything else in life, we must let our fare-evading friends know that you have to pitch in your share so that things remain fair.