Photo by Joel Charlebois/Torontoist.
Coming before the TTC Commission at its next meeting, on March 1: a recommendation that part-time students be cut from post-secondary Metropass eligibility.
According to the current rules, in order to be eligible, students must be “enrolled in a full-time or part-time degree or diploma program” at a recognized institution. Under the proposal going before the Commission next week, only full-time students would be eligible as of September 2011.
We asked the TTC to comment on the rationale for the recommendation; spokesperson Brad Ross told us that “[t]he decision to review eligibility, and the recommendation that part-time students no longer be eligible, is one of revenue. The TTC, as you know, has significant budget pressures.” According to the report the Commission will be considering [PDF]:
Currently, the estimated annual revenue loss is $7.7 million for the expanded eligibility criteria as approved at the December 15, 2010 Commission meeting to include full-time and part-time degree and diploma students and full-time PCC students, with an increase of approximately 0.5 million rides in annual ridership. The annual revenue loss associated with the amended Post-Secondary Student Metropass eligibility criteria as recommended above is estimated to be approximately $6.3 million, with an annual ridership increase of approximately 0.4 million rides; the revenue loss is $1.4 million less, with a ridership loss of approximately 0.1 million rides less than the current estimate. The impact of the recommendation above is budgeted in 2011 to save another $0.5 million. The full annual impact of this change will be included in the development of the 2012 Operating Budget.
The post-secondary Metropass is a very recent innovation for the TTC: voted on a little over a year ago, and introduced in time for the start of the September 2010 academic year. Part-time students, in other words, may have just a year to benefit from this new fare structure before it is retracted.
We spoke with Hamid Osman, a campaigner who worked with City Hall to develop the plan in the first place. “I am extremely disappointed,” he said—like us, just having heard the news in the past hour. He described the fifteen thousand emails that had been sent to the Commission over the last couple of years, as part of the effort to lobby the TTC to extend the discount to post-secondary students. “Traditionally, when people hear ‘part-time student’ they think a mature student or someone going back to school, but now with the high cost of education—eighteen, nineteen, twenty-year-olds are part-time students.” We asked what $240—the approximate value of the discount over the course of the year—might mean to some of these students. “$240 a year covers some of your books, covers ten months of your internet—these are the things students will have to make a choice about.”
TTC staff estimate that 49,000 part-time students use the post-secondary metropass.