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TTC loses more than $70M in revenue because of fare evasion: study

TTC loses more than $70M because of fare evasion: Study
WATCH: A report released by the audit, risk and compliance committee has found the TTC lost over $70.3 million in fare evasion in 2019. Erica Vella reports.

A done study by the TTC’s audit, risk and compliance (ARC) department reveals the TTC lost more than $70 million in 2019 because of fare evasion.

The ARC worked with the Transit Enforcement Unit for six weeks in November 2019 and found the overall average fare evasion rate across the TTC is estimated to be 5.7 per cent or $73.5 million.

“The numbers that are coming forward are worse than we anticipated. This is an issue,” said Councillor Brad Bradford who is a TTC board member.

WATCH: Toronto’s auditor general says the Toronto Transit Commission lost at least $61 million in 2018 due to fare evasion.
Toronto auditor general says fare evasion cost TTC $61M in 2018
Toronto auditor general says fare evasion cost TTC $61M in 2018

According the study, TTC fares account for 97 per cent of the transit agency’s non-subsidized funding.

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“Most of our revenue comes from the fare box and this continues to be a challenge,” said Bradford.

“We don’t have support from other levels of government and we are going to have to tighten things up on fare evasion here in the city.”

READ MORE: Fare evasion, malfunctioning Metrolinx equipment cost TTC $64M in 2018: auditor general

The study looked at the fare evasion rates for each mode of transportation and found the highest fare evasion rate were on streetcars at 15.9 per cent or $23 million dollars.

Fare evasion rates on buses was second at 6.3 per cent, or $34.4 million and subways had the lowest rate at 2.4 per cent or $12.9 million.

“When you take the TTC’s different routes across the city, you can see it. There have been policies and changes – whether that’s all-door boarding or the children’s pass that gets taken advantage of, the challenge of not having debit or Visa – all these things are contributing factors,” said Bradford.

The report comes after the TTC voted to move ahead with a 10 cent fare increase, which would in part pay for additional transit enforcement officers.

“We are increasing fare inspectors. We are increasing our special constables. … those numbers will be in place by Q3 in 2020. For us, we are thinking the cost will be about $3 million to the TTC, but we are anticipating to secure an additional $10 million in fares. So it’s a net-positive of about $7 million,” Bradford said.

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READ MORE: 10-cent fare hike proposed in TTC 2020 operating budget

Abraham Plunkett-Latimer rides the TTC almost daily and he said the loss is significant.

“Obviously this is a huge shortfall that needs to be made up. People who are paying are subsidizing people who aren’t,” he said, adding he recognizes the increases make riding the TTC difficult for some to afford.

“I understand the TTC is pretty expensive for people, I understand that it sometimes make sense for people to evade because maybe they can’t afford the alternative.”

Bradford said fare inspections aren’t meant to isolate people with low incomes.

“It’s not about folks who can’t afford to take the TTC,” he said.

“It’s about people who are just not paying because they feel they don’t need to.”

READ MORE: Mayor John Tory ‘muses’ about publishing photos of fare evaders

The study will be heading to TTC’s audit risk management committee Feb. 11 before heading to the TTC board at the end of the month.