My Letter to the Toronto Transit Commission Board: Request to Postpone the Redeployment of TTC Fare Inspectors

Dear Commissioners,

On June 2, 2020, it was announced that the TTC plans to resume fare inspection and will be directing the Fare Inspectors to resume issuing tickets to passengers.

I urge you to reconsider this action.

We are still in the midst of a health pandemic and the City of Toronto remains under a State of Emergency. While ridership is down significantly, and will likely continue to be down until a vaccine has been found, many people have no choice but to take transit to get to work, or for essential shopping like groceries. These riders are more likely to be low-income, racialized, disabled and precariously employed in essential services like health care and grocery stores.

In addition to pausing fines for fare evasion, early in the pandemic, the TTC suspended the collection of tickets, tokens, and cash on buses. While Presto adoption continues, there are still a number of issues of accessibility and equity in access to Presto, notably in the challenge of loading value and maintaining one’s account despite the scarcity of locations. Many riders have not been able to adopt Presto, so the TTC must allow for riders to start paying with tickets, tokens, and cash before enforcement starts.

In addition to the health pandemic, we are also seeing massive social upheaval in response to exhibits of police misconduct and use of force systemic of anti-Black racism. Similar criticisms have been laid against fare inspectors operating on the TTC, as recently as February of this year.

While I appreciate that management is looking for ways to maximize revenue in a system that relies so heavily on collected fare for operations, the current deficit far exceeds the amount you would be able to recover from delinquent fares, will disproportionately impact low income and racialized riders who rely on your service and could have the unintended consequence of further suppressing ridership.

I urge the Toronto Transit Commission Board to adopt these recommendations.

  • Direct the CEO to postpone the redeployment of TTC fare inspectors until such a time as the COVID-19 pandemic State of Emergency has been declared over; and a sustainable funding agreement has been reached with the Federal and Provincial Governments, at which point the decision will come back to the TTC Commission Board for further consideration.
  • Direct the CEO to present a full cost analysis demonstrating that the amount the TTC would recover from fare evasion enforcement would cover the full cost of hiring, training, retaining and deploying the Fare Enforcement officers, and significantly reduce the operating deficit to justify the reputational risk created by the fare enforcement program.
  • Direct the CEO to release a full operational plan to allow TTC riders to start paying with tickets, tokens, and cash before fare enforcement resumes.

Our public transportation system is critical for getting people across Toronto to and from work, for shopping, for visiting friends and family. It will play a critical role in our economic restart and recovery, but only if the customers who rely on its service feel safe.

Sincerely,

Kristyn Wong-Tam
City Councillor
Ward 13, Toronto Centre

 

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