City debates affordable TTC fares for low-income riders

Watch above: City looks to make transit more affordable for low-income Torontonians. Jennifer Palisoc reports. 

TORONTO – The city may look at making the TTC more accessible for low-income Torontonians should a report make it through the city’s executive committee.

“Given the current transit fares, for someone on very limited income—particularly a single parent with two children who’s trying to get to a recreation program in a different part of town—those fares can provide a real barrier,” Chris Brillinger, the city’s executive director of social development said Wednesday.

“If we have transit that low-income Torontonians can’t access, they effectively don’t have transit. That’s critical.”

The report doesn’t say how many people would be able to access the fare or how much the fare could be decreased – the city hopes subsequent study will find those answers.

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Stefanie Hardman, an advocate with the Fair Fare Coalition, said TTC fares can be a barrier to key health determinants like doctor’s appointments or fresh food from a grocery store.

“Fares are currently unaffordable in Toronto. They’ve been rising out of pace with inflation and it’s time we need to take action on this issue,” she said.

“We are pretty much the only municipality in southern Ontario that does not have a low-income transit pass or an option for discounted fare.”

Guelph, Hamilton, Peel Region, Windsor and Halton all have low-income options for riders. Hardman said people hoping to receive the fare have to meet certain requirements, which sometimes include already receiving social assistance.

Brillinger says any plan would be coordinated with the Greater Toronto Area and not implemented until Presto is fully rolled out across the TTC.

– With files from Jennifer Palisoc