Abolition of tokens may negatively impact the disadvantaged

by | Nov 20, 2019 | City News, News

Jared Dodds, News Reporter

Public transit is a hot-button issue for many students at Humber College, especially as winter brings cold mornings at the bus stop.

But a major change to how transit functions — the elimination of TTC tokens and tickets – has yet to cause a stir around campus, at least in the eyes of Amandeep Sharma, a second-year environmental technician student.

“Actually no, I haven’t thought about it,” Sharma said.

The Presto card will soon become the only option for TTC commuters with the end of token sales on Nov. 30. (Jared Dodds)

The TTC announced on Oct. 23 that tickets and tokens will no longer be sold as of Nov. 30, replacing them with the Metrolinx Presto Card.

Customers will be able to use their tokens after Nov. 30, but refunds for any tokens left over will not be given after the phase-out is complete.

This date has not yet been announced.

Heather Brown, manager of Customer Communications at the TTC, said the organization has been preparing for this switch for years.

“We’ve been rolling out Presto across the TTC since 2015,” Brown said. “We have all of the necessary infrastructure in place, on our vehicles, in our subway stations, to enable customers to make that transition away from paying with tickets, tokens or cash, towards paying with a Presto.”

She said customers can still use cash if they want to avoid Presto.

It will cost $3.25 to purchase an adult fare with cash, compared to the $3.10 it costs for Presto users.

The TTC will also be introducing a one-ride and two-ride ticket to replace the single fare, as well as a full day pass. These are targeted mostly at visitors to the city or infrequent transit users.

Many transit users, like Sharma, will be completely unaffected by the change, as they have been using Presto all along.

But Susan Bender, manager of the Toronto Drop-In Network, wants people to look past their own lives and understand who this change hurts most.

“The cash fare that people will have to pay for a single Presto ticket is an unacknowledged fare hike,” Bender said. “The people who can’t afford a monthly pass and rely on single fares are being asked to absorb a price increase.”

The TDIN is an organization devoted to assistance and advocacy for the homeless and precariously housed community. They give people tokens to get to important meetings, such as consultations with a landlord, or appointments they can’t miss.

The loss of the tokens will make handing out the fare more difficult, though the TTC said they are working towards a solution for social services.

“We’re working on a new plan for bulk purchase customers,” Brown said. “They will be able to purchase either Presto cards or one ride tickets.”

Bender fears the accessibility taken away with the tokens phase-out will affect people who have already been cast aside by some parts of the community. 

“You have to go to a subway station or a Shoppers Drug Mart,” she said. “And Shoppers Drug Mart’s aren’t always the friendliest places for people who are street involved. Some people are barred from Shoppers Drug Mart or they get followed around.”

Bender said the best solution to the problem would simply be free transit, which would have the added benefit of eliminating the need for expenses such as transit enforcement officers.