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‘The TTC is not free’: Transit agency launches fare evasion campaign, increases fare inspection

The Toronto Transit Commission says it lost $124 million in revenue last year due to fare evasion, so it is launching a new campaign to remind people of the importance of paying fares.

A newly released internal audit report found that fare evasion was at nearly 12 per cent in 2023, almost double the 2018 rate of six per cent.

The problem is most prevalent in streetcars, where the fare evasion rate is 29.6 per cent, with an estimated revenue loss of $30.2 million.

It is followed by buses (12.9 per cent) and subway stations (6.3 per cent).

The report also found that 94 per cent of riders who used child passes were not 12 years old and under.

The results of the report prompted the TTC to roll out a new fare evasion campaign this week.

“The TTC is not free, and even with a significant City of Toronto operating subsidy, we rely heavily on fares. They fund safe, reliable service for hundreds of millions of customers every year and they allow us to keep those fares reasonably priced,” the transit agency’s CEO Rick Leary said.

“We need those who willfully deprive our system of funds to understand that their actions have consequences, including less service for others and a fine for themselves.”

Riders will soon see posters across the transit system that will highlight the importance and benefits of paying for their fares.

One poster reads: “Tap to improve service,” while another says: “Tap to improve safety.”

Another poster advertises the city’s fair pass program for those who cannot afford to pay a fare.

TTC poster

In addition to the campaign, the TTC said riders can expect to see increased fare inspection at locations where it is known to be prevalent.

“Transit Fare Inspectors will be patrolling the downtown streetcar network and transfer points in stations and there will be an increased presence of supervisors and Special Constables on the bus network. These measures not only deter fare evasion, they help make the TTC safer through increased visibility of staff,” the agency said.

Early last year, the TTC brought back fines for fare evasion after a three-year pause due to COVID-19, saying it had become a huge problem.