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TTC riders, know your rights

Understanding fines, roles of fare inspectors
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TROY LAWRENCE/THE VARSITY
TROY LAWRENCE/THE VARSITY

Since the TTC implemented its Proof-of-Payment fare enforcement system in 2015, TTC riders have learned to live by an unofficial rule: if you evade your fare, you do so at your own risk. But what exactly does a rider risk? The Varsity takes a look into how Toronto transit operates so that you can know what rights you have while riding the TTC.

Fare inspection is upheld by fare inspectors and Transit Enforcement Special Constables, whose duties include conducting routine fare inspections onboard transit vehicles and overseeing TTC security, respectively.

The regulations concerning fare payment enforcement are enshrined in TTC By-law No. 1, which gives the TTC the authority to pass its own by-laws.

TTC By-law No. 1 was passed in October 2009 and accompanied by a comprehensive list of fines, both of which are publicly available on the TTC website.

Monitoring fare evaders was made somewhat more difficult with the implementation of the Proof-of-Payment system, since people were no longer barred from entering a streetcar or a bus through the back doors and could then potentially avoid the notice of the TTC vehicle operator.

The Toronto Star reported in April that, to combat a foreseeable increase in evasion with the new system, the number of annual fare inspections had increased from 938,000 to 3.7 million between 2015 and 2017.

According to the bylaw and corresponding fines table, refusal to pay a fare, and therefore failure to comply with provision 2.1 of the bylaw, could land you with a ticket of $235 and removal from the vehicle. Failure to provide a fare inspector with a piece of photo identification when requested costs $425.

What would happen, then, if a person did not have photo ID on them?

According to Mike DeToma, Senior Communications Advisor at the TTC, “They could face a fine if it was in relation to misuse of fare, or they might just be let off with a warning. It really depends on the circumstance.”

When it comes to physical force, DeToma clarified that the special constables receive “virtually the same training that police officers get in terms of use-of-force,” but are only authorized to employ physical force in cases of defence.

These special constables are distinct from fare inspectors in that they have been sworn in by the Toronto Police Service and have the same powers as a police officer to enforce the Criminal Code, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Liquor Licence Act, and the Trespass to Property Act.

Earlier this year, the TTC came under fire when a video surfaced online showing two fare inspectors pinning a teenager to the ground, under circumstances that witnesses noted to be outside the bounds of self-defence.

In response to the incident, Ombudsman Toronto announced that it would be completing a full review of the TTC’s investigation file concerning the conduct of the inspectors involved.

Information concerning transit fare enforcement, TTC By-law No. 1, and a detailed fines list are available on the TTC’s website. For questions or complaints, students can contact the Transit Enforcement Department directly or the Human Resources Transit Enforcement Unit Complaints Coordinator.