Fare evasion cost TTC $64M in 2018: AG reports

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TTC has lost $64 million to fare evader in 2018, which includes $3.4-million due to faulty Metrolinx equipment says the city’s Auditor General.

Auditor General Beverly Romeo Beehler also issued a warning saying if issues with the use of the relatively new child PRESTO fare cards are not resolved, a new method of fare evasion could emerge in the future.

Councillor Stephen Holyday told CTV News Toronto: “I think we have to do more to stop fare evasion, send a message that it’s serious, it is stealing from members of the public, and it needs to stop.”

Mayor John Tory says fare evasion is “absolutely unacceptable” adding TTC officials are committed to hiring more fare inspectors and transit enforcement officers in 2019.

“I hope they send a clear message to fare evaders very quickly that they will be caught and they will face costly penalties,” he said in a statement.

Streetcars were the biggest targets of fare evasion, with auditors estimating about 15 per cent of passengers avoiding their fares in 2018.

“This could be attributable to the proof-of-payment system on streetcars where there is no interaction between passengers and streetcar operators, as well as the multiple-door design of TTC’s new streetcars,” auditors wrote in a report submitted to the TTC board on Thursday.

To get to a total of $64 million, the TTC says auditors conducted 136 hours of inspections aboard 315 different streetcar trips, 76 bus trips and at 15 different subway stations in the network.

The auditors also reviewed 38 hours of security camera footage at automatic entry gates at four different subway stations. The inspections occurred over a six week period from Nov. to Dec. 2018.

TTC Chair Jaye Robinson said fare evasion is a “critical issue that has gone far too long without being accurately quantified under the legacy fare collection system.”

“As a regular transit user, I know how frustrating fare evasion is for the residents of Toronto who consistently pay to travel on the TTC,” Robinson said in her statement.

“The recommendations included in this report will guide our action plan moving forward as we approach full transition to the Presto fare card system.” he added.

“The Auditor General’s findings support the need for continued discussions with Metrolinx regarding fare card differentiators and equipment optimization.”

TTC staff found that $3.4 million in lost revenue was due to malfunctioning equipment supplied by Metrolinx, such as Presto card readers found at stations, aboard buses and on streetcars throughout the network.

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