Page created by Dale Lang
Transform the TTC!

            A report by   June 2021
Transform the TTC: Part 1

Pandemic Recovery Fare Policies for a
Thriving Transit System

Part 1: Table of Contents & List of Images.......................................................... 2
Part 2: Acknowledgements. . ............................................................................. 3
Part 3: Executive Summary.............................................................................. 4
Part 4: Introduction. . ....................................................................................... 5
Part 5: Principles for Fares. . ............................................................................ 11
Part 6: Issues by theme................................................................................. 13

    Time-Based Fare Windows and Fare Capping: “Two hours is too short”................................... 16

    Fair Pass Program: ......................................................................................................... 17

    PRESTO Access.. ............................................................................................................ 20

    Digital Divide..................................................................................................................22
    COVID-19 and pandemic..................................................................................................22

    Accessibility ..................................................................................................................24

    Fare integration.. .............................................................................................................25

    Bus service: “I am frequently late for work” . . ...................................................................... 27

    Youth and Students: . . ......................................................................................................28

    Safety and security on public transit........................................................................ 30

    Multilingual Access. . ................................................................................................... 31

    Racism and public transit...........................................................................................32

    Fare enforcement........................................................................................................33

    Transit in Extreme Weather........................................................................................35

Part 7: Recommendations for Fare Policy Review..............................................................36

Transform the TTC: Part 2

 This report was a collective effort that over 50 people contributed to. Thank you to Maytree for
 supporting this work.
 List of contributors (volunteer focus group hosts, note-takers, and report-writers and researchers):

  Anna Gutkowska                      Jennifer Coggon                     Rajpreet Sidhu
  Annie Malik                         Joel Klassen                        Regini David
  Annika Forman                       Julia Campbell-Such                 Renee Xu
  Ayesha Khan                         Kajol Patel                         Rimsha Rahman
  Bee Lee Soh                         Kalaiyarasan Kengeswaran            Rodney Chan
  Beulah Esuk                         Karin Baqi                          Sam Riot (OCAP)

  Breanna Syne                        Karine Habboub                      Saja Elshaikh

  Chinoye Sunny                       Ketheesakumaran                     Sean Chen
                                      Navaratnam                          Selam Eyob
  Daria Jaczy
                                      Kim Stemshorn                       Shelagh Pizey- Allen
  Dawson Teu
                                      Lindsay Blainey                     Shulan Tien
  Debby Wong
                                      Maddy Fast                          Stefan Vladusic
  Elahveyini Veemharaj
  Aswaththaman                        Madelin Burt-D’Agnillo              Suganthine Sivakumar
  Elly Peng                           Marissa Hall                        Sujata Thapa
  Felicia Samuel                      Masooma Ali                         Thai Higashihara
  Hayden Poon                         Mash Mojadidi                       Trishanna Francis
  Heath Soave                         Matthew Strzelczyk                  Vaishali Deshmukh
  Ian Male                            Nancy Guan                          Wanda Tse
  Jamila Gowie                        Nita Goswami                        Willow Cabral
  Jasmine Mohamed                     Nkechi Nwokoye                      Zain Khurram

Transform the TTC: Part 3

TTCriders is a membership-based organization of transit users. Between February and May 2021, TTCriders volunteers
had conversations with over 300 people in focus groups, held in English, Tamil, Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati, and Mandarin. One
event had American Sign Language Interpretation. We surveyed an additional 322 people online.

Research findings: Riders overwhelmingly identified unaffordable fares and infrequent, unreliable, and crowded buses as
their top challenges. Riders’ top two concerns about COVID-19 are bus overcrowding and lack of mask enforcement. Other
findings include safety and security in public transit, racism in public transit, and inaccessible public transit. Youth and low
income people are disproportionately impacted by unaffordable fares.

World class cities are introducing lower fares and more frequent, reliable service to win back riders and address inequalities.
TTC ridership dropped significantly during the pandemic. The provincial and federal governments provided emergency
operations funding because the TTC relies on fares to fund over 60% of its operating budget. Based on our online survey and
focus groups, these are TTCriders’ recommended fare policy changes to win back riders and transform the TTC. These will
require investments in transit operating funding from all levels of government.

1.   Lower fares for working poor residents and low-wage           11. Increase COVID-19 mask distribution and education, and
     workers by fully funding the Fair Pass program.                   release real-time crowding data publicly.
2.   Expand free TTC to people receiving social assistance         12. Expand bus priority lanes.
     and high school students.
                                                                   13. Increase service frequency including local trips.
3.   Introduce fare capping.
                                                                   14. Introduce free TTC on extreme weather alert days
4.   Expand the timed fare window (currently 2 hours).                 (e.g. smog, extreme cold, extreme heat).
5.   Free transfers between municipal boundaries.                  15. Ensure that application processes are accessible and do
                                                                       not require pre-purchasing PRESTO, online access, or
6.   Eliminate double fares between TTC, GO, and Union
                                                                       immigration status.
     Pearson Express.
                                                                   16. Eliminate the concession sound and light emitted by Fair
7.   Expand PRESTO availability to convenience stores and
                                                                       Pass cards.
     other locations.
                                                                   17. Expand post-secondary student discounts to part-time
8.   Fix PRESTO bulk sale and expiry issues in consultation
                                                                       and certificate students and introduce post-secondary
     with organizations.
                                                                       single fare discounts.
9.   End fare enforcement.
                                                                   18. Offer the option of mailing pre-programmed PRESTO
10. Enable multilingual access with audio announcements,               cards to Fair Pass applicants.
    signage, ride guides, and Wheel-Trans call centres.

          TTCriders will submit these recommendations to the Toronto Transit Commission and TTC Board members as they
          create a 5-Year Fare Policy. To support these measures, sign the petition at

Transform the TTC: Part 4


                                                                                                                IMPROVED SERVICE

MORE ACCESSIBLE                                                                                          UPGRADING


    This report is a summary of TTCriders’ online survey and                       our cities and essential workers moving. Toronto residents
    community focus groups with transit users from different                       who continued using public transit during the pandemic
    walks of life in Toronto, conducted between February and                       were more likely to earn lower incomes, be born outside of
    May 2021. The objective of our research is to understand                       Canada, be Black or people of colour, or have a disability1.
    the issues and challenges that riders face and their vision                    Bus routes that serve predominantly low income and
    for change, in order to submit recommendations to the                          racialized neighbourhoods, such as the 35 Jane, were
    Toronto Transit Commission’s 5-Year Fare Policy.                               overcrowded despite public health recommendations to
                                                                                   maintain physical distance2.
    The pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities and
    demonstrated the critical role of public transit in keeping                    World class cities are introducing lower fares and

      Dr. Matthew Palm, Jeff Allen, Prof. Michael Widener, Yixue Zhang, Prof. Steven Farber, and Nicholas Howell, “Preliminary Results from the Public Transit
       and COVID-19 Survey,” May 11, 2020. Accessed May 15, 2021.
      The Local, Tai Huynh, “The 35 Jane,” June 23, 2020. Accessed May 1, 2021.
Transform the TTC: Part 4

 more frequent, reliable service to win back riders and                      health recovery, improve bus speed, increase reliability,
 address inequalities. Los Angeles will pilot free transit                   and reduce crowding.”7
 for youth up to 18 years old, college students, and
 low-income riders3. Washington, DC also is considering                     Bold, equitable fare policies will win transit riders back
 lowering fares for low income riders, eliminating a                        and help rebuild a thriving public transit system and city
 double-transfer fare, and expanding its 12-minute service                  economy. Toronto’s pandemic recovery must include
 network4. Paris introduced free transit for youth up to                    affordable, reliable transit to unlock everyone’s access to
 18 years of age during the 2020 school year5. New York                     health, education, and economic opportunities. Without
 committed to installing 20 miles of bus lanes to make                      investment now, Toronto could see a repeat of the years-
 buses more reliable and attractive to riders6. Boston’s                    long TTC ridership slump that occurred after the early
“Rapid Response Bus Lanes Program” is accelerating the                      1990s recession.
 implementation of 14 miles of bus lanes to “support public

             Number of transit users consulted: 625+, Number of volunteers: 50+
             Languages: English, Tamil, Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati, Mandarin, American Sign Language

                                                                                                         Focus group facilitation training, February 8, 2021.

3, “LA Metro to Develop Free Transit Program for Some Riders,” June 4, 2021. Accessed June 5, 2021.
  Washington Post, “Metro considers service increases and lower fares,” June 1, 2021. Accessed June 5, 2021.
  Bloomberg, “Why Paris Dropped Transit Fares for Young Riders,” September 3, 2020. Accessed May 18, 2021.
  StreetsBlogNYC, “Mayor Creates More Busways,” June 8, 2020. Accessed June 10, 2021.
  Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, “Bus Transit Priority.” Accessed June 6, 2021.

Transform the TTC: Part 4

                               Table 1. Survey data: What are the biggest challenges you face in accessing public transit?

TTCriders is a membership-based organization of transit                         Additionally, 15% of respondents said that they were no
users. Between February and May 2021, TTCriders                                 longer able to afford to pay for public transit, and 4.6%
volunteers had conversations with over 300 people                               reported experiencing racism on public transit8.
in focus groups, held in English, Tamil, Marathi, Hindi,
Gujarati, and Mandarin. One event had American Sign                             This report is organized into fifteen sections based on
Language Interpretation. In addition, we surveyed 322                           the themes that emerged in the online survey and focus
people online.                                                                  group discussions. Each section includes the findings
                                                                                from the online survey and focus groups, representative
Riders overwhelmingly identified unaffordable fares and                         quotes, examples or case studies from other cities, and
infrequent, unreliable, and crowded buses as their top                          policy suggestions from riders. TTCriders has also
challenges.                                                                     developed principles for fare policy, which guide our
                                                                                recommendations. The report concludes with a summary
Our findings echo what the Scarborough Civic Action                             of policy recommendations and ideas that emerged during
Network (SCAN) highlighted in their submission to the                           the research.
Toronto Office of Recovery and Rebuild in July 2020. Of
the nearly 200 Scarborough residents surveyed by SCAN                           TTCriders’ findings and recommendations align with
at the beginning of the pandemic, 75% identified the                            numerous long-term strategies, plans, and reports
need for more buses on busy routes as their top priority.                       previously adopted by the City of Toronto.
    Scarborough Civic Action Network, “Right to Ride Scarborough Public Transit TORR Survey Outcomes,” July 26, 2020.

Transform the TTC: Part 4

   Toronto Office   TTCriders surveyed essential workers who have been relying on public transit to get to
Recovery Rebuild    work, who reported that crowding on buses and unenforced mask use are their top safety
         (TORR)     concerns. The TORR report recommends considering the “needs of essential workers in
          (2020)    recovery,” and highlights the importance of public transit to economic recovery: “The
                    inability of a portion of the population to easily move throughout the city decreases the
                    economic and social returns on transportation investments.” It further recommends
                    measures such as “increasing and accelerating installation of priority bus lanes, thereby
                    improving reliability and reducing commuting time.”9

     TransformTO    TTCriders focus group participants and survey respondents shared that investment in high
           (2017)   quality affordable public transit is a climate solution that would help Toronto achieve our
                    climate goals by increasing transit ridership. In 2017, Parks and Environment Committee
                    requested “a review of the impact of TTC fare cost on ridership with a recommendation on
                    how to achieve greater ridership on existing transit routes,” noting that a 2017 TTC fare
                    increase of 10 cents would reduce ridership by 1.2 million rides.10

Confronting Anti-    Transit users raised experiences of racism and racial profiling in TTCriders’ online survey
   Black Racism      and focus groups. Ensuring that our public transit system is free from racism aligns
          (2017)     with Toronto’s Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism: Recommendation 16 is to
                    “implement measures to stop racial profiling and over-policing of Black Torontonians” and
                     Recommendation 20 is to “make City spaces more accessible and welcoming to Black

Poverty Reduction   TTCriders held two focus groups attended specifically by people receiving social assistance,
  Strategy (2016)   while a majority of focus groups had attendees who earned low incomes or received
                    Ontario Works (OW) or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). Toronto’s Poverty
                    Reduction Strategy recommended improving transit services in the inner suburbs and
                    making transit more affordable for low-income residents12, and in 2016 City Council
                    approved the Fair Pass program, a discount on monthly passes and single fares. The Fair
                    Pass is available to Toronto residents receiving OW, ODSP, or a Child Care Fee Subsidy, but
                    has not yet been fully funded and rolled out to working poor residents. Fair Pass users who
                    attended TTCriders focus groups highlighted that the program made a positive difference
                    in their lives, but should become more affordable and accessible to use and apply to. The
                    Fair Pass Phase 1 Evaluation Report (2019)13 documented barriers to accessing and using
                    the Fair Pass that have not yet been addressed, including the different light and sound

                       City of Toronto, “Attachment C: Evaluation of potential additions to TransformTO Report #1 Strategies,” April 2017.
                        Accessed June 10, 2021.
                       City of Toronto, “Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism,” 2017. Accessed May 1, 2021. https://www.
                       City of Toronto, “Fair Pass: Transit Fare Equity Program for Low-Income Torontonians,” November 17, 2016. Ac-
                        cessed December 21, 2020.
                       TaylorNewberry Consulting, “Transit Fare Equity Program: Phase 1 Evaluation Report,” August 8, 2019. Accessed
                        November 10, 2020.

Transform the TTC: Part 4

                     emitted when concession cards are tapped, language barriers, and confusion about where
                     to load funds and how to apply.

     Youth Equity    TTCriders held five focus groups attended specifically by high school and post-secondary
  Strategy (2014)    students, who reported being profiled and discriminated against based on their age and
                     race. Teenagers suggest expanding free TTC to high school students to reduce policing and
                     create transit riders for life. The Toronto Youth Equity Strategy committed to the service
                     planning principle of an “age-friendly city,” where “policies, services and structures related
                     to the physical and social environment are designed to support and enable all residents to
                     live in security, enjoy good health and participate fully in society.”14

    Access to City   TTCriders did not hold focus groups specifically with people without status but immigration
      Services for   status, is required to access the Fair Pass TTC discount program, since the program is
   Undocumented      only available to people who are enrolled in programs requiring immigration status (Child
     Torontonians    Care Fee Subsidy, Ontario Works, Ontario Disability Support Program, Housing Subsidies,
           (2014)    and Rent Geared to Income).15 In the 2014 AccessTO analysis of City service access
                     requirements (Appendix C)16, the TTC is listed as not requiring proof of identity to access
                     the Fair Pass program, but TTCriders focus group participants shared their experiences of
                     being asked by fare inspectors for proof of identity and immigration status.

                     Many TTCriders focus group and survey participants reported that they rely on public
 Next Stop Health    transit to access health care and groceries. One quarter of focus groups had participants
           (2013)    who reported giving up paying for food in order to pay for transit. Toronto Public Health
                     has reported that affordable access to transit is critical for adult and children’s health,
                     access to food, and employment and education, noting that thousands of lower income
                     residents, primarily those outside the downtown core, live more than one kilometre from
                     a supermarket.17 The Medical Officer of Health recommended that health and equity be
                     considered when making decisions about revenue tools and transit planning.

                     TTCriders focus groups echoed findings from the Toronto Newcomer Strategy about
Toronto Newcomer     barriers to newcomers accessing public transit, especially for those who do not speak
   Strategy (2013)   English or have access to data and smartphones: “Consultations with residents and service
                     providers in communities across Toronto revealed that the service system can be improved
                     to better help newcomers... navigate the transit system.”18

                        CIty of Toronto, “Youth Equity Strategy,” 2014. Accessed June 6, 2021.
                        Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, “City of Toronto Consultations on Toronto Newcomer Strategy Renewal,”
                         February 10, 2021. Accessed June 1, 2021.
                        City of Toronto, “Access to City Services for Undocumented Torontonians,” May 7, 2014. Accessed June 1, 2021.
                        Toronto Publci Health, “Next Stop Health: Transit Access and Health Inequities in Toronto,” 2013. https://www.
                        City of Toronto, “Toronto Newcomer Strategy,” 2013. Accessed June 6, 2021.

Transform the TTC: Part 4


      Graphic representations of survey data
      In order to better visualize and analyze the survey’s data, each respondent was categorized
      into one of four groups, based on their self-reported weekly TTC usage. The groups
      correspond to the pre-written responses for the survey’s second question: “How often do
      you use public transit now? (include round trips as 1 time)” whose pre-written responses
      are: “+ 8 times per week,” “5-8 times per week,” “2-3 times per week,” “1-2 times per
      week,” or “< 1 time per week.” Of the 322 respondents, 57 wrote in custom responses for
      this question. These participants were then placed into the most appropriate of the five
      groups based on their custom response.

      It is important to note that of the 57 participants who wrote custom responses, 23
      wrote multiple responses to the question. Of these 23 responses, 16 were participants
      differentiating between their TTC usage prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and during the
      pandemic. In these cases, respondents were placed into the group that corresponds to
      their current TTC usage. The remaining 7 responses were placed into whichever group
      entails more frequent TTC usage. For instance, one participant wrote “2-3 times per week,
      5-8 times per week, It can vary every week depending on my work situation,” so their
      response was placed into the “5-8 times per week” group.

      Focus groups
      TTCriders trained volunteers to facilitate and take notes during focus group discussions,
      which we called “transit story circles.” We held 31 focus group discussions, attended by
      over 300 people in total. Each focus group discussion lasted for at least one hour. Focus
      group participants were asked a series of three questions: “What are the barriers you face
      to accessing transit?” “How does the cost of transit impact you?” “What transit change
      would make the biggest difference to you?”

      Each focus group discussion was geared towards a specific population, such as social
      assistance recipients, high school students, people of colour, post-secondary students, and
      people who use Wheel-Trans. A majority of the focus groups had participants who live in
      Scarborough. There were also participants from downtown, Peel, Brampton, York Region,
      Mississauga, Jane-Finch, and North West Toronto.

Transform the TTC: Part 5


                                                                                                        FARE CAPPING


  The Toronto Transit Commission has released a set of policy goals19 to guide the development of their 5-Year Fare Policy
  and 10-Year Fare Collection Strategy. TTCriders has developed the following set of principles for fare policy based on
  conversations with hundreds of transit users in Toronto:

       TTC, “Update: 5-Year Fare Policy and 10-Year Fare Collection Outlook,” May 12, 2021. Accessed June 6, 2021.

Transform the TTC: Part 5

Public transit is a human right                                               Public transit should be free of racism
                                                                              and discrimination
     • Everyone should be able to move around our city to
       access other public services and rights. Public transit                  • Fare policy should eliminate racial profiling and
       funding should be a responsibility of governments.                         disproportionate harms to Black people, Indigenous
       The right to freedom of movement is articulated in                         people, people of colour and unhoused people caused
       the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.20                               by fare policing.22

Public transit should fix inequities                                            • Assessing eligibility for fare reductions should
                                                                                  be easy to access, free, and respectful of the
     • Public transit users are more likely to be residents                       confidentiality and the dignity of applicants.
       with lower incomes, be Black, Indigenous, or people
       of color, or have a disability.21 During the pandemic,                 Public transit must be accessible to all
       inequities have been further amplified. Fares must be
       lowered first for those in the greatest need, such as                    • Changes to the fare structure or payment technology
       social assistance recipients.                                              should not create new barriers, whether physical or
     • Fare discounts should not come at the expense of
       service or other riders, but must be subsidized by                     Public transit should support public
       governments.                                                           health

     • Fare reductions should not be limited to traveling                       • Access to high quality public transit is a social
       during off-peak hours, or certain days of the week,                        determinant of health.
       because many cannot choose when they travel.                             • Fare reduction policies like making the TTC fare-
     • Fares should not be relative to distance, mode of                          free on extreme weather alert days support public
       transit, or costs to the system. Transit fares should                      health.24
       be subsidized by the government and should be                          Public transit should encourage
       gradually reduced over time.                                           ridership
Public transit must be publicly owned                                           • Increasing public transit access is needed to address
     • Toronto’s current fare collection system, Presto, is a                     the climate crisis. Lowering and gradually moving to
       public-private partnership between Accenture and                           eliminate fares, as well as improved and increased
       Metrolinx that has resulted in contracting out and                         service, will contribute to increased ridership and
       greater reliance on temp work. Over five percent of                        reduce car dependency.
       every TTC fare goes to Presto. Public funds should                       • Improving transit access in Toronto’s inner suburbs
       support public services, not private profits.                              aligns with environmental and equity goals.25

   Article 13:
   After SFMTA, TriMet and King County Metro conducted fare policy reviews, they decriminalized fare evasion:
   Ontario Human Rights Commission Ontario Human Rights Commission, “Letter to TTC and Metrolinx on Human Rights Code Barriers Linked to PRES-
    TO,” April 6, 2021. Accessed June 6, 2021:
   Office of the Chief Coroner, “Verdict of Coroner’s Inquiry: Grant Faulkner,” June 11, 2018.

Transform the TTC: Part 6



                                                                               AGGRESSIVE FARE POLICING

                                                                               to social isolation and constrains people’s health,
                                                                               employment, and educational opportunities. In half of
                                                                               the focus group discussions, participants said that they
                                                                               had given up on visiting family and friends, attending
 WHAT WE HEARD:                                                                programs, and accepting potential job opportunities
                                                                               because they couldn’t afford the fare. Nearly half of the
 The majority of focus groups had some participants who
                                                                               focus groups had participants who reported having to walk
 earn lower incomes or receive social assistance. TTCriders
                                                                               long distances because the fare was too expensive. One
 also held two focus groups specifically for people who
                                                                               quarter of the focus groups had participants who reported
 receive Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support
                                                                               giving up paying for food in order to pay for transit,
 Program (see “Fair Pass” theme below for more details).
                                                                               and one quarter had participants who said they risked
 Nearly every TTCriders focus group suggested lower
                                                                               a fine because they could not afford to pay. After taxes
 fares, and over one third of groups had participants who
                                                                               and rent, a transit-dependent family of four with two
 suggested making transit free for all.
                                                                               working parents earning minimum wage spends between
                                                                               20% and 35% of their remaining income on TTC fares26.
 TTCriders found that unaffordable transit contributes

      City of Toronto, “Fair Pass: Transit Fare Equity Program for Low-Income Torontonians,” 2016. Accessed May 10, 2021.

Transform the TTC: Part 6

Participants who lost work during the pandemic say that     “ Being an adult, the fare 3.25 is quite expensive,
the fare has become unaffordable.                           especially after the pandemic where we don’t work”
                                                            (focus group participant).
“ If I have to choose between transit and food, I choose
 food” (focus group participant).                        “ One senior said she could not visit her adult child’s

                                                                    Table 2. Survey data: How does the cost of public transit impact you?

 family as often as she wanted due to the cost of public     money for school when I have to pay to go to work
 transit fee” (focus group participant).                     and back and contribute to the needs of my low-
                                                             income family. I have to stack my schedule so I can do
“ Low income families use TTC and walking to get             everything in a few trips” (focus group participant).
 around, but it is difficult for us to spend a lot on TTC
 for recreational purposes. I had to run with tired and
 hungry kids after skating and swimming to catch
 the TTC to stay within the 2 hour window from the
 recreation centre to home. A budget-friendly family
 fare package would keep our city environment
 friendly” (focus group participant).                       “ Fare policing is horrible and makes the transit
                                                             experience anxiety-provoking and classist; lower fares
“ Costs are too high and it’s so hard to manage my           are needed for greater accessibility and equity. There

Transform the TTC: Part 6

should definitely be student pricing and more flexible                              month to make the monthly pass cost “worth it.”
transit passes” (focus group participant).
                                                                                  “ I buy a monthly pass, but calculate whether it’s
Toronto has the most expensive monthly pass in Canada,                              worth it based on the number of trips travelled vs.
with the exception of Vancouver’s three-zone monthly                                pay-per-ride. I have a hard time paying for public
pass. The table below shows how many transit trips at                               transit out of pocket because it’s so expensive”
a single fare rate must be taken to “break even” on a                               (focus group participant).
monthly pass. Focus group participants shared that they
often choose to limit travel and use single fares because                           EXAMPLES FROM OTHER CITIES:
they would not travel enough for it to be “worth it.”
                                                                                    World class cities are introducing lower fares and
Toronto youth and seniors would need to take 57 trips in a
                                                                                    more frequent, reliable service to win back riders. Los

                                                                       Table 3. Comparison chart: Cost of a Monthly Adult Pass in North American Cities, 2020 data.

  Table 4. Comparison chart: Number of Transit Rides to Break Even on a Monthly Pass in Canadian Cities, 2021 data. Note: Missing bars means there are no monthly
                                                      passes for the age group in the city. Vancouver’s values are an average of each zone pass divided by zone fare.

Transform the TTC: Part 6

     Angeles will pilot free transit for youth up to 18 years old,                because a one-way trip can take at least two hours. This
     college students, and low income riders27. Washington,                       issue came up in half of the focus groups. Thirty-two
     DC is considering lowering fares for low income riders,                      percent of online survey respondents said that the 2-hour
     eliminating a double transfer fare, and expanding its                        fare window isn’t long enough because their bus trips take
     12-minute service network28. Paris introduced free transit                   so long.
     for youth up to 18 years of age during the 2020 school
     year29.                                                                      During the pandemic, people’s trips became longer
                                                                                  because some reported they chose to wait for another
     POLICY SUGGESTIONS FROM RIDERS:                                              vehicle when buses were crowded. Several survey
          • Reduce monthly pass cost so the “break even”                          respondents reported that their trips have become longer
            number is lower.                                                      due to the elimination of local bus stops. Those who have
                                                                                  not switched to using PRESTO cannot take advantage of
          • Lower fares or make transit free for students, youth,                 the 2-hour fare window.
            seniors, low income residents, and all riders.

          • Make transit free for Deaf people and people with
                                                                                “ It takes too long to get to where I need to go and I
                                                                                 spend half of that time waiting for a bus”
            disabilities.                                                         (survey respondent).

                                                                                “ It rarely happens that I need more than 90 minutes,
                                                                                  however during COVID this should be extended

                                                                                  because people not wearing masks force other
                                                                                  customers to leave the bus and wait for next one,
                                                                                  which could be 30 minutes away”
                                                                                  (survey respondent).

     The 2-hour fare window does not benefit people who travel                  “ I can’t use the 2 hour window. That’s how long
                                                                                  it takes me to get around from my location to my
     primarily on buses and experience unreliable bus service,
                                                                                  destination” (survey respondent).

                                                                                                                                FARE CAPPING

, “LA Metro to Develop Free Transit Program for Some Riders,” June 4, 2021. Accessed June 5, 2021.
          Washington Post, “Metro considers service increases and lower fares,” June 1, 2021. Accessed June 5, 2021.
          Bloomberg, “Why Paris Dropped Transit Fares for Young Riders,” September 3, 2020. Accessed May 18, 2021.

Transform the TTC: Part 6

                                                                              FAIR PASS
       • Extend the 2-hour fare window. Some riders
         suggested extending it up to 3 hours.

       • Implement fare capping.
  Annual net costs of a 2-hour TTC fare window were                           WHAT WE HEARD:
  estimated at $20.9 million in 201930, which included $3.6
                                                                              The Fair Pass TTC discount has made a difference in
  million for additional service hours, revenue loss from
                                                                              peoples’ lives, but remains unaffordable. The Fair Pass
  transfers that would become free, and revenue gains from
                                                                              discount was first approved by Toronto City Council in
  additional riders. PRESTO charged the TTC approximately
                                                                              2016 as part of Toronto’s Poverty Reduction Strategy but
  $5 million to make the change, which the TTC paid for
                                                                              is not fully implemented for all low-wage workers and
  with a one-time operating contribution to capital.
                                                                              working poor residents. Extending discounts to working
                                                                              poor Toronto residents is more urgent than ever. The
                                                                              Poverty Reduction Strategy mid-term report notes that
  Fare capping ensures that riders who can’t afford the                       65% of Fair Pass users were still riding TTC during the
  up-front cost of a monthly, weekly, or daily pass aren’t                    pandemic, compared to approximately 35% of overall
  charged more than wealthier riders. Edmonton, Alberta                       riders, demonstrating that low income people depend
  is introducing fare-capping in fall 202131. Fare capping                    on transit the most34. The annual cost of extending the
  should be available on all concession fares.                                discount to working poor residents who earn the Low
                                                                              Income Measure plus 15% is estimated to be $25 to
  See Portland’s Hop Fastpass32 and Miami’s Easy Card33
                                                                              $30 million.

Portland, Oregon                                                                            Miami, Florida

Fare window: 2.5 hours for $2.50                                                            Fare capping: Daily cap of $5.85 for unlimited travel
Fare capping: Day pass after tapping                                                        Fare capping for K-12 students and low income riders:
twice for $5.00                                                                             Daily cap of $2.80 for unlimited travel

       TTC, “Introducing a Two-Hour Transfer Policy,” November 28, 2017. Accessed June 6, 2021.
       City of Edmonton, “ARC (formerly Smart Fare).” Accessed June 10, 2021.
       TriMet. Accessed June 6, 2021.
       City of Toronto, “2019-2022 Poverty Reduction Strategy Action Plan Mid-Term Status,” May 17, 2021. Accessed May 25, 2021. https://www.
Transform the TTC: Part 6

“ We have to sacrifice nutrition for transportation.                               not present in many suburban areas. In addition, PRESTO
Money for transportation is out of our food money -                                cards must be validated within 30 days. Focus group
should I go out and take transit or use it for eggs?”                              participants also raised concerns about privacy, because
(focus group participant who is a current Fair                                     they are aware that Metrolinx has shared PRESTO users’
Pass user).                                                                        data without a warrant36 and are concerned about being
                                                                                   surveilled by OW, ODSP, or other agencies.
“ I’m a senior now on RGI and I have less money
now than when I was on ODSP because my medical
transportation expenses are not covered now”
(focus group participant).

Recent changes to the Fair Pass application process have
created new barriers in applying for cards and loading                             The Fair Pass Phase 1 Evaluation Report (2019) found
funds. The Ontario Human Rights Commission wrote to the                            that the “majority of cardholders heard about the program
TTC and Metrolinx on April 6, 2021 about their concerns                            in-person at a Toronto Employment and Social Services
that PRESTO may present barriers to accessing Toronto’s                            (TESS) Application Centre/ODSP office (48%), or through
public transit for some Human Rights Code-protected                                a TESS produced card or flyer in the mail (13%). These
groups, and that the PRESTO system “appears to create                              findings suggest that direct (in person) communication
barriers for people using the City of Toronto’s Fair Pass                          with staff may be the best method for this type of
Program.”35 The multiple steps to obtain a card, apply to                          program.”37 Other barriers identified in 2019 include
the program, load a card, and validate it creates barriers.                        language barriers and confusion about where to load funds.
People without online access can only load their cards                             Participants in TTCriders focus groups also reported being
at subway stations or Shoppers Drug Marts, which are                               stigmatized by the sound and light made by concession

      Table 5a. Comparison chart: Adult and Low Income Passes in North America, 2020 data. Note: Vancouver and Montreal not included due to no low-income passes.

      Ontario Human Rights Commission, “Letter to TTC and Metrolinx on Human Rights Code Barriers Linked to PRESTO,” April 6, 2021. Accessed June 6,
      Ben Spurr, Toronto Star, “Metrolinx continues to share Presto users’ data without requiring warrants,” February 4, 2019. Accessed May 1, 2021.
     TaylorNewberry Consulting, “Transit Fare Equity Program: Phase 1 Evaluation Report,” August 8, 2019. Accessed November 10, 2020. https://www.
Transform the TTC: Part 6

                                                 Table 5b. Comparison Chart: Low-Income Pass Discount Percentages in North America, 2020 data.

cards, which was also reported on in the 2019 Phase 1             had to call PRESTO, PRESTO said we had to call OW)”
Evaluation Report.                                                (survey respondent).

“ Recently, my friend lost the card and so we went                EXAMPLES FROM OTHER CITIES:
through the new system. We were lucky that we were
able to go to the local library to pick up a free card           Toronto’s monthly pass for low income residents is higher
and then called in by phone to apply. But they forced            than some regular monthly passes in other Canadian cities.
him to first create an account online for PRESTO. It             Toronto’s Fair Pass program offers a 21% reduction on
was a pain - people with disabilities might not know             monthly passes, but most cities offer a 50% discount for
how to use the computer” (focus groups participant).             low-income transit users.

“ Fair Pass is too expensive still. It’s also detrimental         POLICY SUGGESTIONS FROM RIDERS:
& stigmatizing because my card apparently swipes
                                                                    • Expand free TTC to people receiving social assistance.
with a different beep on buses etc., and different
colours on subway trains. A fare enforcement officer                • Fair Pass benefits should be expanded to more low
stopped me once on the subway to make sure I wasn’t                   income residents.
using a child’s PRESTO card because it flashed a
different colour when I swiped” (survey respondent).                • Offer in-person Fair Pass sign up options, and offer
                                                                      sign-up clinics with Metrolinx so that Fair Pass cards
“ I received a discounted metropass fairly and                        can be applied for, validated, and loaded on the
correctly from the TTC. The bus driver asked whether                  spot. The City of Toronto is requesting that Metrolinx
I was a senior citizen or a student. At first I didn’t                allow real-time validation of cards during the online
understand why the driver was questioning her. Then                   or phone application process, but there must be an
I realized I felt humiliated that he asked the question               interim solution.
the way he did, I was accused indirectly about fare
                                                                    • Remove the concession sound and light emitted
evasion” (focus group participant).
                                                                      by Fair Pass cards so that users do not face
                                                                      discrimination or harassment.
“ There was no notice about the Fair Pass expiry and
it was hard to find out how to reapply (OW said we                  • Resume the option of receiving a programmed
Transform the TTC: Part 6

    PRESTO card by mail.                                           The top two concerns about PRESTO in focus groups
                                                                   were the limited locations to purchase and load cards,
 • Provide more locations in Toronto to load PRESTO                and having unused tokens and paper tickets. Access to
   cards.                                                          Presto locations is very limited and those who don’t live
 • Resume offering in-person sign-up options for the               near a station or a Shoppers Drug Mart face numerous
   Fair Pass program.                                              challenges. Not everyone is physically able to go to
                                                                   Shoppers to load their Presto card. Presto is convenient
 • OW and ODSP should send a registered PRESTO card                for some as it allows for automatic loading of funds, but
   to clients annually, instead of needing to reapply.             not everyone has a credit/debit card. In addition, people
                                                                   who have a disability, live in poverty, or are seniors face
 • Fair Pass should not require proof of immigration
                                                                   barriers to loading their card online.
   status to access.

                                                                  “ I was denied service from Shoppers Drug Mart during
                                                                   the pandemic and couldn’t add funds to my PRESTO”
                                                                    (focus group participant).

CARD ACCESS                                                       “ I need to go to Shoppers Drug Mart to load the card
                                                                    in all types of weather. Sometimes the loading devices
                                                                    at Shoppers don’t work, and the loading process is
Half of the focus groups we held brought up PRESTO                  very hard. There were more places to buy tokens”
access issues. Seniors, people who do not speak English,            (focus group participant).
students, people with disabilities, and low income people
were more likely to identify challenges loading and               “ I need to go to STC to load the card. I need to find
accessing PRESTO.                                                  someone to help me” (focus group participant).

                                             Table 6. Survey data: The TTC is phasing out tokens and switching to PRESTO. How does this affect you?

Transform the TTC: Part 6

                             Table 7. Comparing sale locations of TTC tokens (red) and sale locations of PRESTO products at Shoppers Drug Marts (blue), 2018 data.

“ At some point there wasn’t a refill station at the                                     tickets, which creates challenges for organizations
UofT Scarborough campus and I wasn’t able to get on                                      that provide transit fares so that community
transit. I had to get my dad to meet me to refill my                                     members can access programs;
pass” (focus group participant).
                                                                                    • PRESTO issues with the City of Toronto’s Fair Pass
“ I got thrown off the bus because there was no way of                                Program, including the multiple steps needed to
 reloading PRESTO at my bus stop”                                                     obtain, load, and validate a card, and the stigmatizing
(focus group participant).                                                            sound and light emitted by concession fare cards.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) wrote
                                                                                 “ There is still a lot of confusion around paper tickets;
                                                                                  questions get asked like “How is this used?” That’s
to the TTC and Metrolinx in April 2021 their concern                              another barrier”
that “the use of the PRESTO electronic fare payment                               (social service provider in a focus group).
system may present barriers to accessing Toronto’s public
transit for some Human Rights Code-protected groups.”38
Barriers identified by OHRC include:
                                                                                 “ A lot of people cannot afford the $6 fee for the
                                                                                  PRESTO card and continue to pay individual fares.
                                                                                  People who can’t afford the card may not know that
     • Reduced physical locations where TTC fares can be                          they can get the card for free if they can’t afford it”
       purchased, with the most significant gaps occurring                        (focus group participant).
       in areas where more residents are racialized or
       experience poverty;
                                                                                 “ PRESTO doesn’t show my balance when my card
     • Up-front costs of PRESTO cards, minimum balance                            is read by machine. Tokens, paper tickets should be
       loading requirements, and access to discounted fares;                      allowed to exchange for PRESTO ticket/card”
                                                                                  (focus group participant).
     • Issues with the bulk sale and expiry of PRESTO
     Ontario Human Rights Commission, “Letter to TTC and Metrolinx on Human Rights Code Barriers Linked to PRESTO,” April 6, 2021. Accessed June 6,
Transform the TTC: Part 6

The earlier graph of online survey responses demonstrates               “ PRESTO is a good thing for many, but it’s not
the myriad ways that PRESTO technology has created                       accessible to everyone, especially the older
barriers to accessing public transit, from lack of access                demographic. They should keep tokens for seniors.
to online banking to being denied service at Shoppers                    Seniors are familiar with tokens and taking that
Drug Mart. Limited access PRESTO machines was the top                    away makes it more difficult for them to take transit”
concern.                                                                 (focus group participant).

     • Expand locations to purchase PRESTO cards and                       • Reintroduce paper schedules at all stops for people
       tickets to grocery stores, convenience stores, and                    without smartphones.
       community locations.
                                                                           • Keep selling and accepting TTC tokens and tickets,
     • Show account balance when PRESTO cards are                            which do not expire.
       tapped on buses or streetcars.
                                                                           • Organizations should continue distributing TTC
     • Let riders exchange TTC tokens and tickets for                        tokens and tickets, which do not expire.
       PRESTO tickets or cards.
                                                                           • Let riders exchange TTC tokens and tickets for
     • Continue selling and accepting TTC tokens and                         PRESTO tickets or cards.
       tickets, which do not expire.
                                                                           • More stores and places to purchase PRESTO cards
     • Agencies should continue distributing TTC tokens                      and tickets in person for people without online access.
       and tickets, which do not expire.

     • Make PRESTO cards free.
                                                                         COVID-19 AND
DIGITAL DIVIDE                                                           PANDEMIC
WHAT WE HEARD:                                                           WHAT WE HEARD:

The PRESTO system has disadvantaged transit users                        Riders who frequently rode the TTC shared that bus
who don’t know how to navigate the online system or                      overcrowding and low mask compliance were their utmost
don’t have access to a computer, smartphone, or internet                 safety concerns. The TTC produced several heat maps
access. This is an issue that especially affects the seniors             throughout the pandemic demonstrating where crowding
and low income transit users that TTCriders spoke with.

“ Tokens were more convenient than PRESTO cards,
more accessible (you don’t have to go to a subway
station or Shoppers or on the internet to fill them up),
and more affordable” (focus group participant).
                                                                         was occurring on the bus network, but has not made
“ How can I get my money back for the tokens I have                      real-time crowding data publicly available39. The TTC has
 already paid for if they are no longer accepted?”                       distributed 2.1 million masks as of May 6, 2021 but has
(focus group participant).                                               not enforced their use.40 The TTC stocks hand sanitizer on

     TTC, “TTC’s Response to COVID-19,” May 13, 2020.
     TTC, “TTC Stakeholder Update, May 2021,” Email to
Transform the TTC: Part 6

                                                                         Table 8. Survey data: Share any concerns you have about using TTC during COVID-19.

streetcars, Wheel-Trans vehicles, and in subway stations                    “ You can try to be safe at work, and wear all your PPE,
but does not have sanitizer available on the bus network.                    but the chances are we’ll get the virus on the buses
As of June 8, 2021, 1,058 total TTC employees have                           because of the crowding. This causes a lot of mental
tested positive for COVID-19.41                                              health challenges/stress. Some buses are suffocating
                                                                             because there is such overcrowding”
“ We need safety inspectors instead of fare inspectors”                      (focus group participant).
(focus group participant).
                                                                            “ During the pandemic I am reluctant to get on
“ I live in Scarborough, and the buses I take are                            overcrowded buses. I live in Scarborough and lately at
 chronically unreliable. They are also sometimes too                         certain times the buses, several routes, are as full as
 crowded to be safe, which is really worrying for me                         pre-2020” (focus group participant).
 as a pregnant healthcare worker during COVID-19”
(survey respondent).                                                         EXAMPLES FROM OTHER CITIES:

“ If I catch COVID on the bus, how can I prove it was                        Washington, DC is considering expanding its 12-minute
 from the bus?” (focus group participant).                                   service network to win back transit users.42 New York

     TTC, “TTC COVID-19 Case Update.” Accessed June 13, 2021.
     Washington Post, “Metro considers service increases and lower fares,” June 1, 2021. Accessed June 5, 2021.
Transform the TTC: Part 6

 committed to installing 20 miles of bus lanes to make                         reported feeling unsafe due to inadequate signage, lack
 buses more reliable and attractive to riders.43 Boston’s                      of staff on platforms and at stations, and visual or audio
“Rapid Response Bus Lanes Program” is accelerating                             communication during emergencies. Overcrowding is an
 implementation of 14 miles of bus lanes to “support public                    accessibility issue because people with mobility devices
 health recovery, improve bus speed, increase reliability,                     cannot board overcrowded buses. For more information,
 and reduce crowding.”44 Some cities are ensuring that                         read our detailed report from our accessibility townhall.46
 everyone can access vaccination by making transit to
 vaccine clinics free, such as Calgary Transit, which                          Riders using wheelchairs report having trouble
 reimbursed transit riders by providing two transit tickets                    maneuvering through fare gates. Those who receive social
 upon exiting the vaccination clinic.45                                        benefits, support and assistance from other individuals
                                                                               face challenges in the administrative process, particularly
POLICY SUGGESTIONS FROM RIDERS:                                                the procedure for renewing Support Person Assistance
                                                                               Card. Wheel-Trans users overwhelmingly share concerns
     • Expand mask distribution on the transit network and                     about the lack of waiting time they get to be at their
       make sanitizer available on all buses.                                  vehicles and the duration of the waiting period for their
     • Educate passengers on the importance of wearing                         next vehicle if they missed their original booking.
       masks while on TTC.
                                                                               Wheel-Trans riders would like the option of booking their
     • Enforce the use of masks on the TTC.                                    riders through an app, instead of over the phone. For Deaf
                                                                               or hard of hearing riders, VRS would be better than TTY,
     • Stop enforcing fares during the pandemic.
                                                                               which takes more time to communicate with TTC. Some
     • Increase bus service and decrease wait times on all                     suggest that transit should be free for Deaf people, people
       routes instead of demand-responsive service.                            with disabilities, and seniors, who face overwhelming
                                                                               challenges in navigating the transit system, technology,
     • Install more bus lanes and do not remove local stops                    applying for fare discounts, and loading funds. Traveling
       or decrease service hours.                                              long distances to a Shoppers Drug Mart or subway station
                                                                               to load Presto is a barrier.
     • Release real-time crowding data publicly.

     • Let riders board buses from the rear-door.                             “ Fare gates are not wide enough to accommodate
                                                                               some large-sized wheelchairs”
                                                                               (focus group participant).

ACCESSIBILITY                                                                 “ I have to try very hard from my wheelchair to lean
                                                                               over and tap my card on the sensor which takes a
WHAT WE HEARD:                                                                 few seconds to register and to open the gates. And,
                                                                               the gates close before I am able to maneuver my
TTCriders held a townhall and focus group discussions                          wheelchair through the fare gates”
for Wheel-Trans users and seniors with the Centre for                          (focus group participant).
Independent Living Toronto and Toronto Seniors’ Forum.
Affordable fares and accessibility of fare payment, transit                   “ TTC should be free for Deaf folks. It’s a way to make
vehicles, and Wheel-Trans were key themes. People also                         things a bit more equitable. I know CNIB has free

     StreetsBlogNYC, “Mayor Creates More Busways,” June 8, 2020. Accessed June 10, 2021.
     Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, “Bus Transit Priority.” Accessed June 6, 2021.
     Calgary’s largest COVID-19 vaccine clinic now offers free transit, free parking | CBC News
     TTCriders, CILT, Toronto Seniors’ Forum, “Accessibility Transit Townhall Report,” May 11, 2021.
Transform the TTC: Part 6

transit for Blind people” (focus group participant).                            • Better and consistent signage, including washroom
“ Greater responsibility of snow shovelling to make it
 more accessible for those with strollers”                                      • Add information at elevators and do public education
(survey respondent).                                                              to prioritize elevators and accessible seating for
                                                                                  people with disabilities and using mobility devices.
EXAMPLES FROM OTHER CITIES:                                                     • Boarding decals at subway stations.
Vancouver installed long-range sensors in the SkyTrain                          • Add more elevators in stations to create redundancies
so that riders with disabilities can use them.47 Vancouver                        and avoid crowding and over-use.
also has a station assistance program for people with
disabilities to call and arrange for support navigating                         • More bus service on the conventional system to
stations, boarding trains, or opening fare gates.48 In                            address crowding, which is also an accessibility issue.
New York, people with disabilities can apply for a 50%

                                                                              FARE INTEGRATION
reduction of a regular fare.49

                                                                              WHAT WE HEARD:
                                                                              The high cost of travelling between different transit
                                                                              agencies and across municipal boundaries impacts
                                                                              respondent’s travel. Over 60% of TTCriders online survey
     • More locations should be equipped to load PRESTO                       respondents said that a lack of transit fare integration
       cards so that people with accessibility issues are not                 negatively impacts their travel behaviours. The double
       forced to commute long distances to load their cards.                  fare between TTC and 905 transit agencies discourages
                                                                              people from making regional trips. The absence of fare
     • More staff at TTC stations and subway platforms to help.               integration between TTC and GO or Union Pearson Express
     • Allow more time for Wheel-Trans users and people                       led to people giving up a faster travel option.
       with accessibility needs to board buses and trains.
                                                                             “ I avoid travelling outside TTC because of the high
     • Send registered PRESTO cards to ODSP recipients                        cost of double fares, the fact that there are a lot of
       every year instead of requiring re-application.                        systems makes it very complicated”
                                                                              (survey respondent).
     • Deeper Fair Pass discounts or free transit for people
       with disabilities, low income seniors, and people
       receiving social assistance.
                                                                             “ I would probably have a better job if I could get to
                                                                              another municipality. It’s not worth the cost if it is
     • Introduce an app to book Wheel-Trans rides.                            unreliable. Taking the TTC is not a reliable service
                                                                              during the interview process of a new, better job. Also
     • More staff training on interacting with Deaf riders                    the employers see you as a risk to them and others
       and people with disabilities.                                          that work there” (survey respondent).

     • Seamless discount for low-income or disabled riders
       available across municipal boundaries.
                                                                             “ It’s prohibitive for me physically to carry shopping
                                                                              and luggage a 20 min walk and with health issues

     Vancouver Sun, “TransLink to unveil accessible transit fare gate program for SkyTrain,” January 23, 2018.
     TransLink, “Accessible Transit in Metro Vancouver Brochure,” 2019.
     Metropolitan Transportation Authority, About reduced fare MetroCard, Accessed June 11, 2021
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