Thursday, December 3, 2009

TTC: Why are we even paying for it?

Free trips on the TTC?

I came across a site that suggested that ALL mass transit systems should be FREE. At first glance, I figured the idea was crazy, but when you think about it:

- it wastes tonnes of money to figure out who paid
- it means way more infrastructure: people, tokens, tickets, transfers, booths,
- it means horrible line-ups
- it means people won't just wait, if the system is too busy

If it is free, people will get on and off a lot more. Which is actually a good thing, particularity in this age of green awareness. It may just be so easy to bus there, then walk home (or partway home).

Dropping the cost to zero liberates the system.

Why do we waste all of this money? So that people who use the system "more often", pay more? Who are these people anyways? The poor?

If we just made it free:

- more people would use it, and for shorter trips,
- line-ups would be easier.
- people choosing to use their cars would pay "extra" (for unused services)
- tourists / visitors would be impressed (we could quietly tax their hotel stays :-)

We'd finally look like we were actually ahead on something, instead of always looking so dysfunctional and backwards.

It would be really simple to fund this at a provincial level. Then we could make all "short" haul systems free, and all long haul systems private (and competitive). To make it fairer, we could base in on regional property tax, i.e., if you live up in the north where there are no systems, you don't have to pay. If you live in a big city like Toronto, or any of its suburbs, or nearby towns, you would pay in taxes. If you chose to use your car instead, that's your choice, but the system is always there is you need it. Fair and simple.

It's just so simple.


  1. I guess the TTC has expenses...don't fares cover any part of those? Is the cost of supporting a fare/ticket system larger than the income it provides?

  2. Hi agit8d,

    Thanks for the comment. Common belief is that the fares at the TTC cover between 70% and 80% of the cost of the system. So, ultimately we pay 20% to 30% of the costs through taxes at the moment.

    Wouldn't it be nice to just walk on and off a subway, without having to care? That would definitely change the way we use the system ...