The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) announced its plan to hire 71 special constables and fare enforcement officers, with an additional three supervisors, in an effort to recoup lost revenue through fare evasion.
Fare evasion has spiked recently due to the implementation of the unreliable Presto system, costing the system desperately needed funds for maintenance and improvements. Ironically, the move comes at the same time Toronto’s transit union, representing more than 11,500 public transit workers, takes measures to exonerate a subway station customer service agent from the TTC’s punishment for collecting fares in a difficult circumstance.
Following a Rogers Cup tennis game at York University, in August 2018, and in the midst of a thunderstorm, a large crowd entered the nearby Pioneer Village subway station entrance that was solely equipped for Presto. The TTC failed to have a portable crash gate at the entrance, which was initially planned to accommodate the large influx of professional tennis fans. With only cash in their pockets, the customers arriving at the Presto-only entrance were insistent they do the right thing and pay their fares. Looking to serve these customers who wished to pay, the customer service agent collected the fares and allowed the riders into the station. The agent then gave the money directly to a supervisor.
Instead of commending the employee for goodwill and dedication, a two-day unpaid suspension and 10 months probation was levied by TTC. The probation was recently extended for an additional three months.
The union is asking the TTC very simple questions: how can you be serious about increasing fare inspection when you are punishing your own employees for collecting fares while failing to properly plan for large-scale events at subway stations? And, why is it becoming harder to pay a fare following the elimination of the collector position?
Jed Dela Cruz photo