TTC not checking POP fares on Queen streetcar line

TORONTO – TTC officials say “resource issues” have prevented transit officers from checking whether streetcar riders have paid their fare over the last couple of years.

“Fare evasion is a problem every transit system faces,” spokeperson Brad Ross said. “Operators can only do so much.”

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Toronto’s transit system loses an estimated $20 million annually because of fare evasion and riders boarding the back of streetcars without a transfer or pass, hopping over turnstiles at subway stations and using counterfeit passes all contribute to the problem.

The 501 Queen streetcar route operates on a POP – or Proof-of-Payment system – between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

A similar POP system will be set up on the 510 Spadina line at the end of August when the new streetcars are used for service for the first time.

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An additional 18 fare inspectors will be added at that time, with the ability to levy fines for as much as $400.

“They will be very visible will be on the street cars,” Ross said. “They will be at the stations.”

GO Transit, for example, has been using a POP system on trains since 1988 and claims a fare evasion rate of one per cent or lower.

“Clearly that’s a priority for us,” the Director of safety and security for GO Transit, Bill Grodzinski said. “If you travel the rush hour train, you can be guaranteed that you will be checked at least a couple of times a month.”

Eighty GO Transit special constables are checking at least five per cent of the riders at peak periods.

The TTC’s Proof-of-Payment will be rolled out to each route as the new streetcars are added.

Both the 501 Queen route and the 510 Spadina line provide service to more than 43,000 riders every day.