Just two weeks after launching, one U of T student’s petition to eliminate the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) post-secondary student identification card has garnered over 7,600 signatures.
Students enrolled in a full-time degree or diploma program are entitled to the TTC post-secondary student metro-pass, which costs $112. However, to use these passes, students must also present a valid post-secondary ID card.
The post-secondary metro-pass has been in use since 2010. Before this, postsecondary students paid the full-fare.
A long-term metro-pass user, Jordana Schiralli says she started the petition after she was kicked off a TTC bus for not having her TTC-issued post-secondary identification card while on her way to a midterm.
“The experience added unnecessary stress and anxiety to my morning, and I mostly started the petition as a way to vent,” Schiralli says.
“The support from students has been overwhelmingly positive. Since I started the petition… I’ve heard stories of students getting harassed, fined, and even kicked off busses late at night,” Schiralli adds.
Milly Bernal, a TTC communications advisor, says that the TTC uses its own identification system in place of university-issued cards because the latter do not always contain required information.
“Most post-secondary school IDs do not show eligibility (for example, they do not distinguish between full-time and part-time status.) When students go to get their TTC photo ID cards, they also must bring proof of full-time enrolment,” Bernal says.
One TTC driver, who requested anonymity, says that TTC operators are not typically directed to refuse service to riders without the identification card.
“Operators are encouraged to ‘educate’ customers who are missing said fare or accompanying documentation and then provide the service. I have never refused service to a student passenger for not having their card. By far and away, the majority of drivers I know have not either,” the driver says.
However, the driver says he does not think the identification card is out of date. “I don’t think it is especially onerous to ask that post secondary students carry and present this card. On the other hand, people forget things and are always in a rush… Students very rarely show me the ID card with their metro pass. I make the mental shortcut of assuming they have forgotten their ID card and will show it tomorrow,” he adds.
However, the driver agrees that the system as it stands now needs some rethinking, saying that a “hole [may] be created whereby people can purchase metro-passes at reduced rates they are not entitled to.”
For her part, Schiralli says she wants her petition to serve as the impetus for a TTC policy overhaul. “The TTC has several options. One particular solution could be to implement a sticker validation system. This would allow students to use their student ID (e.g. TCard) with their metro-pass. A new sticker would be added every year verifying that the student is enrolled in full-time studies,” Schiralli says.
Schiralli does not have a specific number of signatures in mind for the petition, but says she hopes to formally submit the petition to the TTC next week.