A new report from the TTC reveals riders are abusing child PRESTO cards, which allow them to ride for free, and in turn, costs the transit agency millions.
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The report, which was presented at a meeting for the TTC audit committee on Tuesday, demonstrates adult riders are abusing the TTC’s ‘kids ride for free’ policy.
During the meeting, it was revealed that roughly 6.2 million trips were taken using the child card in 2019, with 89%, or 5.5 million of these rides being “misused” by adult riders. This rate of misuse would result in a loss of $12.4 million in revenue for the TTC, according to the staff report.
In this presentation, figures were collected over three weeks in January (the 5th through 25th), which included a PA Day and two strike days, with the numbers showing riders were using the child PRESTO cards at unlikely locations and at all times of the day. This included class hours, when schools were closed, and late hours.
According to the report, 17,000 child cards were used during abnormal hours during the test period, generating 89% of total taps.
It was also revealed that one of the most common places for children to tap during the test period was at York University subway station, which the report says is “not likely used by children ages 0-12 who attend nearby schools.” During the test period, roughly 4,500 children’s cards were tapped here.
Furthermore, a second presentation revealed child PRESTO cards accounted for 33.7% of all fare evasions in 2019, which would cost the TTC more than $23 million annually.
The findings come just after the transit agency released a report indicating it had lost over $70 million to fare evasion in 2019 alone, and of this, between $12.4 and $23 million was likely the result of adults using child PRESTO cards.
In the report, the TTC said it has since stopped distributing promotional child cards, however, they are still available through third-party vendors and through online sales, like Kijiji and Craigslist.
However, a viable solution to the problem has yet to be set, and the TTC says”efforts to work with concession card distributors and implement controls over the issuance of multiple child cards and to ensure child cards being purchased are utilized solely for children age 12 years and under must continue.”
Other solutions to be considered include the TTC “continu[ing] to work with Metrolinx to secure a modified fare product that aids in distinguishing between adult and child card usage,” according to the report.
The transit agency says it’s also considering hiring additional fare inspectors and TTC employees to further deal with fare evasion.