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TTC considers scrapping child Presto cards after widespread misuse
TORONTO -- The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is considering removing all child Presto cards from circulation after the transit agency reported losing millions due to fraudulent use by adults.
The TTC is considering the step in order to deal with its $12 million revenue loss, which they say is caused by adults deceptively using the child cards to evade paying their transit fare, a memo obtained by NEWSTALK1010 states.
The memo was sent by the transit agency’s CEO, Rick Leary, to TTC commissioners one day ahead of the City of Toronto budget meeting.
The internal memo explores the possibility of looking into how feasible it would be to end child cards altogether, noting that officials will report on the option to remove child cards within the next 30 days.
Children ages 12 and under can ride the TTC for free, but the card is used for drivers and collectors to verify their age, the TTC said, adding that the misuse of child Presto cards is “significant.”
“Under the new proposal kids would still be able to ride the TTC for free, however, now without the need for a payment card,” the memo states.
“This means adults would have no means to purchase fraudulent free cards and those using the child cards illegally will no longer have access to the system.”
Mayor John Tory said Tuesday that he’s adamant about keeping transit free for children, but said the card issue needs to be dealt with.
He said cancelling the current cards could mean that new ones could be printed that are a different colour to distinguish them, or it could mean that transit staff will have to “eyeball kids” more or require parents to vouch for their child’s age.
“We are looking at all these answers … but what has to change is human behaviour, this is unfair to the people that do pay, this is theft from the TTC,” he said.
“We put into place all kinds of measures with more to come to help people who are lower income to afford to travel on the TTC … where it’s happening in many places is not neighbourhoods that are generally resided in by people who have lower incomes.”
The TTC reported earlier this month that it has lost at least $70 million in revenue due to fare evasion last year, mostly due to more people not paying fares on streetcars, and misusing child cards.
In addition to ending child cards altogether, the TTC said it will also hire more special constables and consider deploying fare enforcement officers strategically using “hotspot data.”
“The TTC will deploy officers based on where we can see the highest rate of fare evasion occurring,” the memo stated. “Fare inspection deployment in 2020 will be systematic in determining the coverage period and fare inspection locations for each route and station location.”
It said that it will also improve station camera technology, and improve station design by installing the newest version of fare gate software.