Teenagers and a poorly-introduced Presto plan are to blame for wide spread fare evasion on the TTC, says transit workers’ union president Bob Kinnear.
Since the TTC stopped requiring children 12 and under to pay to ride the transit system in March 2015, there has been a “free-for-all” as drivers lack the ability to require children to produce identification, said Kinnear, head of Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113.
“Children 12 and under have suddenly tripled in our ridership,” he added. “You’ve got 15-year-old kids that have moustaches and beards saying, ‘I’m 12 years old,’ knowing full well … there’s nothing you can do.”
TTC’s own website even states: “If you are between 13 and 15 years old, you do not need identification to travel.”
The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) offers select students with longer travel distances 10 free TTC tickets each week but some don’t even use them.
One 13-year-old, who didn’t want to be named, said his friends never pay to ride the TTC.
“I’ve had a couple of friends who are taller and they’ve stopped them and just said, ‘You’ve got to pay next time.’”
Kinnear, meanwhile, said he believes the Presto card transformation has been “extremely detrimental” to TTC ridership numbers, essentially offering up freebies.
He added that “90% of our system isn’t set up for Presto although we’re recognizing it on 100 per cent of the system.
“I’ve been told for the last couple of months that (TTC operators) are being advised that if anybody has a Presto card, you’re to let them go through if the station or vehicle is not equipped.”