Ameer Shash | Contributor
Featured image courtesy of Jordan Chu | Photo/Video Editor
Here’s a riddle for you: what is something that goes up but never goes down? If you’re a commuter living in Toronto, the answer is, invariably, our transit fares.
Residents have been baffled by the TTC that seemingly squeezes every dollar they can from riders. No matter what social media platform or news outlet you tune in to, it is likely that you’ve seen headlines criticizing the TTC for their unreliable service. A brightly-lit “Out of Service” display board shines unforgivably atop those steel-bodied trains as they slowly make their way out of the station past you.
A group of young men, along with Canadian-born Eritrean rap artist 6ixReacts, uploaded a two-minute video on YouTube, among other sites, on May 7, 2018, which sparked an internal investigation by the TTC. The video, titled “NYEAH EH,” was aimed at TTC workers in complete distaste for the commission’s policies. The lyrics insinuated that the artists would commit offences in response to their disapproval to the TTC. A fragment of the video spoke, “Two bones? ‘Imma walk in for free,” said by 6ixReacts. Their fare hike has caused near-irreparable damage to the commission’s image in the public eye, as if it wasn’t ruined since the beginning. This line from the video made it evident that a fare hike is absurd, although the TTC has not made any attempt to improve service.
Transit users who have become frustrated handing over their fare in exchange for a sardine-packed bus ride have found other ways of commuting. Their bus ride may go to great lengths, but so will riders in order to evade the $3.25 bus fare, which is required by those who are ages 18 to 65. While hitching rides on the exterior of trains and buses are all too common in regions like India and China, there is a certain breed of human in this city that exhibits irrational behaviour. They risk their lives and reputations by grabbing a hold of the exterior.
An incident on April 12, 2018 was captured on video by a passerby depicting a man doing just that in the middle of the evening. TTC spokesperson Brad Ross commented on the foolishness, describing the ordeal as “a reckless, dangerous and stupid stunt.”
In the long run, it means millions of dollars in revenue being lost annually due to fare evaders not pitching in their share to fund a shared transit network. A portion of that revenue lost could have been allocated towards much-needed repairs if it weren’t for these evaders.
If the TTC wants to improve their service without having to continually put a burden on riders’ wallets. Consider training drivers to manage their time better. This can be done by facilitating specialized simulations and studies to evaluate the speed and distance between each bus. Analyze traffic data for certain times of the day to then deploy practices according to those peak times and observations, which would alleviate what appears to riders as inconsistent scheduling.
Traffic, for instance, is a variable that drivers cannot control, so you cannot ridicule your bus driver for arriving seven minutes late. The TTC has sought another approach to ease their tardiness. It involves using an autopilot-like system to operate subway trains by controlling variables such as speed and stopping times. But the catch? It costs $563 million to implement this system.
I recall seeing a glimpse of the phrase, “Free TTC” in the header of a Toronto Star release, but with everything else in life, we must pay our dues.