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Over Time, How Fairly Have TTC Fares Fared?

TTC Fares vs. Gas Prices, 1980-2010

As anticipated by transit watchers, the TTC is proposing an across-the-board fare hike, effective January 3, 2010. That hike, to be decided on at the commission’s November 17 meeting, would see adult cash fares rise from $2.75 to $3.00, tokens rise from $2.25 to $2.50, and adult Metropasses jump from $109 to $126. A full list of the proposed changes are here; the immediate reasons for them are—as they always are—myriad. (The Star and Globe both take a look at some of them.)
Of course, this fare increase is only the latest in a long line of them. Since 1980, there have been twenty-one hikes—a set of six adult tickets purchased on January 1, 1980 cost a total of $3; an adult Metropass, when it was introduced later that year, was $26. The chart above tracks the ever-changing cost of a TTC adult fare, as it was on June 1 of each year from 1980 until now (using statistics collected on Mike Vainchtein’s Transit Stop). Save for a few spots—like the comparatively massive increase to the cost of a cash fare in 1992—the increases have been steady, and in the case of ticket or token costs when purchased in larger numbers, almost entirely predictable.
For a related metric, the far less consistent and infinitely less predictable black line in the chart above is the average cost of regular unleaded gas, per litre, from full service filling stations in Toronto for the month of June of each year (from data by Statistics Canada’s CANSIM database). Though TTC fares and gas prices are affected by a number of different variables and set for different reasons—both are subsidized in different ways and determined by different organizations with different interests and different demands on them—there’s no doubt that gas prices are growing less quickly than TTC fares are, even if on the TTC it’d still only take you the equivalent of two and a half litres of unleaded to get from Queen East and Woodbine to Finch and Steeles.
As usual with statistics, though, it’s not the raw but the relative year-to-year statistics that give a more accurate impression. So, adjusted for inflation, easy enough to determine using the Bank of Canada’s online inflation calculator, how’s the TTC doing?


TTC Fares vs. Gas Prices, adjusted for inflation, 1980-2010
Well, that depends.
TTC fares have risen and are still rising year-to-year at a rate greater and greater than inflation is. (Gas? Doing great until recently!) For an ever-growing transit system that is ever-absent of adequate government funding and that individual riders pay an ever-disproportionate share to use each trip, though, it’s a trend that won’t be bucked any time soon. Riders who are angry about yet another fare increase—”Really? REALLY? We are supposed to be moving away from cars towards public transit, this kind of move makes me never wnat [sic] to ride the TTC again,” one rider complained in the Star‘s comments—might be well off asking themselves what their $2.50 will be getting them in 2010 that their equivalent of $1.48 in 1991 wouldn’t have then.
All charts by David Topping/Torontoist.

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