If approved by city council, the TTC fare increases will take effect in the first week of January. ((CBC))

A Toronto Transit Commission fare increase has come one step closer to reality, although university and college students may be spared some of the hike.

The TTC voted to approve the fare hike at its board meeting on Tuesday.

Under the new rates recommended by the TTC, a single adult fare would jump to $3 from $2.75, and the price of an adult monthly Metropass would increase to $121 from $109.

Student and senior fares would increase to $2 from $1.85 and children’s fares would go to 75 cents from 70 cents.

But the TTC voted to offer some relief to university and college students, who are currently required to pay adult fares when purchasing the monthly Metropass. Under the new system, they would be able to purchase passes that are now available only to high school students.

Student changes months away

The TTC voted to increase the price of both students' and seniors' passes to $99 from $91.25.

The new fares will take effect in the first week of January if Toronto city council votes to approve the TTC's recommendations next month. But post-secondary students will only be able to buy the discounted student passes beginning next September.

The proposed fare increase has drastically affected riders' behaviour well before the transit authority approved it.

Since the TTC announced on Nov. 4 it would be recommending a fare increase, token sales have soared 20 per cent as people purchased and hoarded tokens by the dozen.

The TTC, fearing it would run out of tokens, has since limited token sales at automatic dispensers to one per customer. If riders visit collection booths, they will only be able to purchase five tokens at a time.

'No one wants to pay more for transit'

TTC chairman Adam Giambrone said he's "disappointed" the TTC has had to hike fares, but he wants to maintain the level of service.

"No one wants to pay more for transit. But we've heard very clearly from other levels of the government that they are constrained, that there [aren't likely] to be large increases to the commission's budget," he said after the vote. 

"And if the other options are to cut service, I'm not prepared — and evidently the commission wasn't prepared — to consider that, and the only other remaining option was a fare increase."

The TTC is facing a shortfall of about $100 million in next year's operating budget.

Giambrone expects the increased fares will generate an additional $50 million in revenue next year.

When asked where the TTC will find the the extra $50 million to bridge the budget gap, Giambrone said the TTC was talking with the city's budget committee about "efficiencies and choices that have to be made in terms of priorities" before Toronto tables its operating budget in March.