Should children ride the TTC for free?

Mayor John Tory's plan to let children 12 and under ride the TTC for free is being questioned by some members of council, including Tory's own budget chief.

Questions about John Tory's plan to erase fares for riders 12 and under

Mayor John Tory's plan to let children 12 and under ride the TTC for free is being questioned by some members of council.

Earlier this month as the city budget process got underway, Tory announced that while other fares would rise by 10 cents, kids 12 and under could ride for free. The mayor touted the proposed change as a break for families but yesterday TTC CEO Andy Byford admitted it will be a challenge for drivers who will now have to verify the age of young passengers.

"There will be a challenge if we get somebody who says they are 12 who appears to be a lot older," said Byford. "I'm not going to sugarcoat that. What we don't want to get into [disputes] with children, that would be ridiculous."

The cost of the plan is about $7 million, which roughly equals what the proposed fare increase on Metropass users would generate.

Byford says the TTC Commission may not like that trade-off.

"This has still not yet been through the TTC board, that will happen next Monday where I suspect there will be a big debate," he said.

Children ride free, others pay more

Tory made the announcement that children ride free on the same day he shared plans to raise the fares for all other riders, except those paying cash fares.

Currently children aged two to 12 pay 75 cents a ride.

"This will provide real financial relief for families," said Tory about the plan to stop charging kids in that age group at the time.

There are also questions about where the idea of letting kids ride for free originated. It was not part of Tory's election campaign.

"It really came from the mayor's office during the transition," said Coun. Gary Crawford, the mayor's budget chief.

What was in the election campaign, however, was a pledge not to raise TTC fares.

Coun. John Campbell, the budget committee's vice-chair, says the mayor is trying to draw attention away from his broken promise.

"He's saying that we are going to raise fares and we're going to improve service and then this is another way of giving something thing back that is tangible and will I think deflect some of the criticism."

With files from The CBC's Jamie Strashin


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