EDITORIAL: TTC drives hands deep into post-secondary students’ wallets

ETC Staff

The Toronto Transit Commission won the “Transit System of the Year” award from the American Public Transport Association in 2017.

But does North America really have some of the best transit systems, as compared to other cities across the globe, for the TTC to be proud of this achievement? Or is this award recognizing Toronto for being the best among a group of relatively poor transit systems?

Toronto is regarded as one of the major cities in North America and is becoming more influential to the rest of the world.

That status demands a high-quality transit system especially considering the dense population that calls the city home. But the TTC does not compare with many other cities across the world in terms of the complexity of the transit system.

The subway system in Toronto consists of just 79 stations, compared to 421 in New York City, 194 in Moscow and 270 in London, Even Mexico City is home to 163 and Stockholm has 100 stations.

And while these subway systems travel in all eight directions, the TTC is limited in the fact that travels solely north-south and east-west.

Over the years, fantasy TTC lines have been drawn up, which has lines going as west as Square One Mall in Mississauga, maybe with a stop at Pearson International Airport, and as east as the Toronto Zoo.

These fictitious transit maps would be a dream come true for the Greater Toronto Area’s (GTA) commuters from the suburbs, making a faster and more efficient commute.

Although it’s understood this is quite unrealistic right now, as Toronto’s transit system can’t transform overnight, it is a wishful thought in the back of one’s mind when they are taking multiple buses to reach a subway line to get to work.

Cleanliness and the frequency of delays are often complaints heard from Toronto commuters. But these issues just barely scratch the surface of some of the problems that are experienced by riders.

The TTC gives a very low subsidy of about a dollar per rider. This is in comparison to the average North American subsidy of $2.60 per rider.

While the TTC’s higher fare is understandable for people who are travelling far distances, or requiring the use of transfers to streetcars, subways or buses, it would make a great deal of sense if those who are travelling shorter distances could be paying less.

If a person can travel from one corner of the city to the other for $3.25 cash or $3 via Presto, then it may be a frustrating truth for some riders to have to pay this same fare to travel just one or two subway stops.

These high prices hit the post-secondary students in their wallets, as they receive only a $30 discount on monthly passes.

This means that a monthly pass in Toronto sets students back $116.75. This is made all the more frustrating because post-secondary students in other cities around Ontario pay much less or, at times, nothing at all.

Students at the Brantford campus of Wilfrid Laurier University pay $47.41 each semester for an unlimited bus pass. This is essentially a fraction of the cost of a pass in Toronto that is only good for one month.

Western University and Fanshawe College students in London, Ont., are entitled to a FAN card which allows them to travel around their city as no cost on the London Transit Commission.

These post-secondary students are in very similar positions as university students from Toronto. We are faced with the same costs, may that be rent, food, textbooks or tuition.

This raises the question of why post-secondary students in Toronto are faced with a cost for public transportation that is incomparably high as opposed to counterparts from other Ontario cities.

Yes, Humber does have transit systems other than the TTC bringing students to and from classes, including Brampton Transit, York Region Transit and Mi-Way Mississauga. This means that this is not solely a TTC problem, but rather a problem that facing the GTA as a whole, which is overseen by Metrolinx.

The fact is Humber is a commuter school. A large proportion of students deal with a long commute each way to attend classes at a school in the northwest corner of a huge metropolis.

As an incentive to skip driving to school, leading to less congestion both on the roads and in the always-packed school parking lots, a reduction in fares or monthly passes is paramount.

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