“This is a historic victory, we've never had a student pass before,” CFS organizer Joel Duff told the newspaper just moments after the TTC passed the motion at City Hall's Council Chamber on Tuesday, Nov. 17.
The TTC announced a proposed fare increase on Nov. 5, citing a budget shortfall of $106M. Wage and benefit increases, rising fuel costs, and the increased popularity of Metropass sales have all contributed to this deficit.
The proposal called for a 25 cent increase on cash and token fares and an increase on the Metropass from $109 to $126. U of T students are currently eligible for a $96 VIP (Volume Incentive Program) Metropass through UTSU. The VIP Metropass is hugely popular, and UTSU sells between 6,000-14,000 passes, depending on the month. Long line-ups of students waiting to purchase the VIP Metropass are a familiar scene on campus towards the end of each month.
The CFS and member student unions, uniting as the Fair Student Fares campaign, delivered a unified message in their deputations at City Hall on Tuesday. Student leaders shared concerns of how fare hikes would impact financially-burdened students, citing record-high youth unemployment rates, high tuition fees, and the large percentage of commuter students who rely on public transit.
Hadia Akhtar, UTSU VP External, told the Commission: “I would strongly recommend that the TTC avoids gets caught in the hurdle of calculating who is a part time student. We're all students, we all need affordable transit.”
U of T, York, Ryerson, and OCAD student unions delivered 6,000 petitions calling for affordable and accessible transit fares to TTC Chair Adam Giambrone.
Giambrone was receptive to the campaign's demands. He added, “we know that if we can people around in their early 20s, they'll become life-long transit riders.”
The question now is where students will purchase their Metropasses come fall.
“We're going to suggest that they allow us to issue the cards from the student union offices. It shouldn't be quite as bad as the monthly line-ups at UTSU right now, because you only have to get [the pass] once for the year,” said Joel Duff. “The goal is to make it easier for students to get passes.”
While the TTC and student unions figure out the logistics, students will pay the new VIP rate from January to April, which is going to be $111. Students who don't use a monthly pass will still have to pay the $3 for a cash fare.