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