Sunday, September 16, 2007

I left my heart in San Francisco...

...or so it seemed when I read the news once I got back from the left coast last week about the TTC's fare hikes.

I took transit, called MUNI, a few times while in San Francisco to get around the city and the fare was pretty reasonable. Indeed, compared to the TTC it was crazy cheap. Cash fare is US$1.50, and that's good for 90 minutes in any direction unlike the TTC, where transfers are one-way. I checked their Web site, and a monthly pass can be had for US$45.

Then I get back to Toronto, and I read this:

In November, 15 cents will be added to the cost of tickets and tokens, bringing the price to $2.25.

Riders will also pay much more – $109, up from $99.75 – for the Metropass, which was exempted from last year's fare increase. TTC chair Adam Giambrone resisted a recommendation from staff to increase it to $111. The $2.75 cash fare will remain the same.
I already find TTC fares incredibly high, and now they're jacking them up even higher? I've only been here a little over two years and this is at least the second, if not the third, fare hike in that time. I'm a regular transit user, I buy a Metropass each month, and now that's going to cost me $109? That's inane! The break-even point on tokens vs. Metropass is already too high.

And what do I get for that $109? I get to squeeze onto an overcrowded bus that comes far too infrequently. My bus in the morning doubles as a school bus, which means if I try to catch it between 8:05am and 8:40am, if I'm lucky enough to get on board (they often fly by full) I'm hanging onto a railing for dear life. So I either get to work very early, or late. It's the same in the peak going home, and yet frequency is still extremely low.

The idea with public transit, and the public subsidization thereof, is supposed to be to get people out of their cars and onto transit, to reduce gridlock and reduce emissions. When you have an overburdened system though, for which you keep jacking-up fares to crazy levels, you make it very hard for people to want to leave their cars.

Now, I'm sure this all has to do with the ongoing Mayor Miller vs. The World battle at city hall, and us poor plebes are just caught in the middle. Although, the fact the TTC chair says even if the mayor gets his tax hikes these fare increases are here to stay hurts that case a tad. Still, clearly the city, province and the feds need to put more money into the system. They're asking riders to pay too great a share.

By the way, this serves to expose the uselessness of the Harper government's tax credit on transit passes. That's not what the system needs, and it's of absolutely no help. What it needs is more base funding to lower fares and increase capacity, which will encourage people to ditch their cars.

And finally, they increased Metropass and token/ticket prices, but they left cash fares unchanged. Why? Why punish your most loyal customers, the ones that give you a steady revenue stream each month? Is it because you know they're less likely/less able to stop taking the TTC because of the increase than the casual, cash fare customer?

Probably. It's basically the TTC giving the finger to its most loyal customers. They may not lose many current customers, but people thinking of switching to transit will be thinking twice. More cars on the road, more gridlock, more emissions.

I should have stayed in San Francisco.

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1 comment:

News Editing said...

Dear Jeff,

Hello, my name is Valentina D. and I am studying Journalism at the University of Guelph-Humber in Toronto. For a News Editing class, I am to write a news feature based on the upcoming TTC fare hike and how it will affect the public. Judging from your post, you have some strong views on the subject and I think it will be helpful in my story. Could I possibly ask you a few questions via e-mail for my story? If so, please contact me at If not, I understand you're very busy and thank you for taking the time to read this.