Even for those who rarely pick up the local newspaper, it’s hard not to overhear conversations concerning the latest debacle at the TTC. Between the public firing of Gary Webster, the confusion over the transit commission, and the endless cuts presented by Mayor Rob Ford, there’s definitely much to talk about – and much to be felt as well.
As of now, students are riding into the third month of a 10-cent tax hike – with more promised in the near and distant future. This annual cost increase, which is meant to compound further 10-cent hikes between 2013-2015, comes at a time of great uncertainty for Toronto’s transit system. It’s a definite possibility that, with large-scale projects such as the Eglinton subway line on the table, the further cost increase could come much sooner than we think.
With our recent student elections, some of these TTC issues have been brought closer to campus – especially for Dylan Moore and Corey Scott, the two candidates for VP Internal and Services.
In a flurry of promises that speak of reducing campus fees, increasing student services and diversifying campus life, Corey Scott’s statement to “[protect] the discounted TTC pass” is but a footnote in his campaign. However, it is still an important issue considering the large demographic of students who rely on the TTC to get to and from campus.
When asked about the $5 increase in the student Metropass, at least one student had a negative review. “We’re paying a lot as it is,” says Aaron Perera, a first year Life Science student. “By the time I graduate, I’ll be paying $124 a month on transit. That’s ridiculous.” He applauds Scott’s promise to reduce, or at the very least freeze, the cost of the TTC Metropass before it inflates further.
However, let us not be quick to forget the route cuts that occurred in September due to budget constraints, among other service reductions. This is not to mention the crowding and delays that occur in a system with a projected ridership of 503 million by the end of the year – a customer base which includes the thousands of students who use its buses, subway trains, and streetcars on a daily basis. With budget shortcomings totaling $30 million, the TTC needs these fare increases in order to meet growing customer demands without having to further reduce their quality of service.
“It’s definitely a tough decision,” says Terenz Escartin, also a Life Science student at U of T. “But really, what’s the alternative? We need their services to get around.”
In order to maintain a system that effectively connects the millions of people in Toronto, an up-to-date transit system is necessary – and that can only happen with fair contributions from the riders themselves. Whether or not the current price for the student Metropass is enough is up to, well, the student. Regardless of your views on the fare hike, one truth remains: we’re riding this out together.