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TTC approves 25-cent per ride fare hike

College and university students will now get break on Metropasses

David Nickle    Nov 17, 2009

Fares for the TTC will go up by 25 cents for most rides on TTC and the adult Metropass will increase from $109 to $121 in 2010 - but college and university students will be able to buy discounted student Metropasses, something that's currently only available to secondary school students.
That was the final word from the Toronto Transit Commission Tuesday evening, as it considered a much tougher fare hike recommended by commission staff to help balance the 2010 operating budget for the TTC.

The original staff plan would have made up $62 million of the commission's $106 million shortfall. The new plan, put forward in various motions from commissioners, will only find $50 million in new revenue - meaning that eventually, the transit commission will either have to go to Toronto or provincial taxpayers, or propose cuts that TTC Chair Adam Giambrone said are unacceptable.

"I don't support cuts - the commission doesn't support cuts," said Giambrone. "I'm optimistic there won't be any cuts to service."

Indeed, the commission actually voted to slightly increase services, putting $3.4 million from the additional fare hike towards creating a network of 10-minute-or-better bus service in September of next year.

But the biggest change will be the extension of student Metropasses to college and university students, who must currently pay the full adult fare.

In 2010, a college or university student studying in Toronto will be able to purchase a monthly Metropass for $99. Currently the student-senior pass is set at $91.25.

And the adult Metropass increase will be capped at $121 a month - $5 less than the $126 a month recommended by TTC staff.

The commission made the decision after hearing from representatives of student and anti-poverty groups, pointing out that the effect of fare increases could unduly harm both students and the poor.

Nadine Tkarchevskaia, director of external affairs of the Glendon College Students' Union, said in many cases students already have to choose days to miss classes because they can't afford the transit fees, and in some cases are making other choices.

"No student should have to choose between eating breakfast and getting to class," she said.

Others urged the commission to simply hold off on deciding on a fare increase until it's known exactly how much the provincial government will be able to assist the TTC with its operating budget.

"You're asking us to take it on faith that you need a fare increase before you present us with any real numbers," said Katrina Miller of the Toronto Environmental Alliance. "I understand that you're in a difficult position but that's not a fair way to do it. We need a long term funding commitment from the TTC and the city, and of course from the province."

Commissioners were resigned to having to provide some manner of fare increase, however.

"Nobody wants a fare increase, but we've heard some very clear messages from people like the Premier saying there's no more money coming for the TTC and that the city has extreme challenges," said Giambrone.

"I'm hopeful we'll be able to work with the budget committee - but our increase is around $105 million. Right now we have a pretty good sense of where this budget is going."

The fare increases will take effect Jan. 2, 2010.

As published: http://www.insidetoronto.com/news/cityhall/article/216157--ttc-approves-25-cent-per-ride-fare-hike

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