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Making sense of the TTC’s new fare rules

The TTC’s new policies have caused confusion for some passengers and parents.
July 12, 2016
By Ben Spurr

The TTC board approved major changes to its fare policies Monday that will affect the Red Rocket’s young riders. The new rules, which would come into effect next year, include requiring children as young as 6 to use Presto fare cards. Children 10 to 12 would have to have photo ID in order to ride free, while teens from 13 to 19 would have to have photo ID to access the discounted youth fare.

The new policies have caused confusion for some TTC users and their parents. Here’s what you need to know.

Why is the TTC doing this?

One reason is to combat fare evasion. Since March 2015, children 12 and under have been able to ride free, but the TTC suspects teenagers are abusing the system to avoid paying fares. Having youth around 12 years of age carry photo ID would solve that.

Because fare evasion costs the TTC money, chief customer officer Chris Upfold framed the rules as a way to ensure the agency can “protect” free rides for young riders. “Because if it gets to a stage where it actually becomes unsustainable, then people are going to lose that discount,” he said.

The other reason is Presto. The TTC will have installed automatic fare gates at all subway stations by mid-2017, and fare collectors will be phased out. Because the gates won’t open without a Presto card, any child too big to go through the gate with a parent will need a card in order to physically enter the station.

Will children 12 and under still be able to ride without paying a fare?

Yes. But while nothing would change for children 5 and under, kids aged 6 to 12 would need a Presto card, which costs a $6 administrative fee. Children aged 10 to 12 will also need to pay about $5 to $7 for TTC-issued photo ID.

Will children in the same family each need their own card?

Yes. For children 10 and older, their cards would include their photo and would be non-transferable. Children aged 6 to 9 could share a card, but not if they are travelling together.

Will children aged 6 to 9 need a Presto card to ride buses and streetcars?

Although surface vehicles won’t have Presto gates and children will be able to physically board without using a fare card, the TTC will ask them to tap their cards on buses and streetcars because doing so provides the commission with valuable data used in service planning. “We would encourage them to tap because it gives us information, but it’s not necessary,” said TTC spokesman Brad Ross.

How will children get Presto cards and photo IDs?

Details have yet to be worked out, but the TTC hopes the application process will be entirely online. To prove eligibility for the discounted fares, families would have to provide the TTC with proof of the young transit riders’ age, such as a birth certificate or passport.

Instead of the old system, under which photographers visited schools to take student ID photos, pictures of young riders would be submitted online. The photo IDs for all age groups wouldn’t be a separate document, but would appear on the Presto cards themselves.

Will kids have to get new photos every year?

No. Youngsters would need new photos three times, at 10, 13, and 16 years old. The ID at 10 ensures they can ride free until they turn 13, at which point they need a new ID to access the discounted youth fare. While teens are eligible for the youth discount until they turn 20, a TTC report notes a “13-year-old can change in appearance significantly over this period,” so they would be required to get an updated photo at 16.

What happens if a child loses the card?

Presto cards for young riders would be registered with the TTC. If a card is reported lost, the agency would put it on a “hot list,” which would render it invalid. Children (or their parents) would have to go through the application process again to get a new card, but any outstanding balance on the lost card could be transferred to the new one.