A joint movement between the Mayor and City Councillors is pushing the TTC to roll out time-based transfers across the entire transit system for PRESTO users.
Mayor John Tory, along with TTC Chair Josh Colle and TTC Commissioner Mary Fragedakis have sent a joint letter to the TTC’s CEO Andy Byford on Thursday, requesting the transit agency look at the costs around the introduction of time-based transfers on all routes in 2018.
“I am dedicated to getting Toronto moving and making sure it is easier for people to get around our city,” said Mayor Tory in a statement. “Back in 2015, we did the right thing and introduced the Kids Ride Free program on the TTC.”
Tory said that the bold change has since led to millions more children being able to ride the transit system, and the change has made life more affordable for families in Toronto.
“Now with time-based transfers and the PRESTO technology, we once again have the opportunity to make life more affordable for our residents and further encourage transit ridership,” Tory said.
Councillor Colle and Councillor Fragedakis will be spearheading the addition of time-based transfers to the 2018 TTC budget.
“Time-based transfers would allow people on transit the flexibility to hop on and off to run errands or make stops along their way to work, school, or home,” said Colle. “This would continue the modernization of our services, and further demonstrate the TTC’s ongoing commitment to improving the customer experience.”
The letter states that PRESTO use is at 14% among TTC customers.
“Making time-based transfers available for PRESTO users would have multiple benefits including making transit more affordable, increasing ridership, and encouraging PRESTO adoption,” reads the joint letter.
A TTC report published in 2014 indicated that transfers are currently the biggest
contributor to fare evasion on the TTC – costing the system, at that time, nearly $15 million annually, according to the letter to Byford. “The same report noted time-based transfers are used by transit systems across Canada and around the world, and has the potential to reduce fare evasion.”
Fragedakis said that time-based transfers gives residents incentives to ride transit, and it works well in other cities.
“I have no doubt this will increase ridership especially in off-peak periods and will help small businesses along TTC routes,” said Fragedakis.
The proposed TTC budget, which also introduces a fare freeze next year, goes to the TTC budget subcommittee on Friday, and to the TTC Commission on November 28.
According to the City, after the entire TTC board finalizes the transit authority’s budget, it will be submitted to the City’s Budget Committee, the Mayor’s Executive Committee and to City Council early in 2018.