Councillor John Campbell Asks if the City Should Get Rid of Metropass Discounts
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Councillor John Campbell Asks if the City Should Get Rid of Metropass Discounts

Are Metropass users causing the TTC's budget woes, like a councillor claims? Haha, nope.

There’s a lot of anxiety about the TTC budget, as the transit agency struggles to make Council’s mandated cuts without affecting service levels.

In steps John Campbell (Ward 4, Etobicoke Centre), the fiscally conservative-minded councillor and TTC board member, who has a really bad idea.

In a tweet, he muses that the TTC’s biggest problem is the low average revenue per fare, and that a possible solution would be to get rid of Metropass discounts. Metropass users aren’t exactly getting a free ride—they pay more than $140 a month. That cost has increased by twice the inflation rate over the past six years, as the TTC tried to avoid cash fare increases and Council definitely tried to avoid property tax increases.

Are unfairly cheap Metropasses really what’s causing the TTC’s budget woes? If only there were some way to create context for how transit gets funded, and whether the TTC uses its resources efficiently.

In this chart tweeted by Metro‘s Matt Elliott, you can see the problem isn’t that Metropass users aren’t paying their share. In fact, compared to the largest North American, Canadian, and local transit system, TTC riders pay the largest percentage toward the fare box.

On a percentage basis, the TTC works with less subsidy than any other transit agency on the continent. This is in large part due to the Province getting out of funding the TTC’s operating budget. But the City didn’t pick up the slack—in large part because of councillors who are too afraid to raise property taxes or support other revenue tools to make up the difference.

And so here we are, with a councillor floating the trial balloon fare discounts like the Metropass is the TTC’s biggest problem, and that we can solve transit by making it more expensive. If that’s not indicative of larger problems, it’s hard to know what is.