TTC asking parents to help stop teens who scam free rides

Turnstile jumpers, counterfeit tokens, short-changing and now, baby-faced teenagers who take advantage of the free rides reserved for children—has contributed to the estimated $20 million annual revenue loss for the TTC.

'Help address this behaviour with your kid(s),' writes TTC Deputy CEO Chris Upfold

Drivers can ask for photo identification before teens board but only special constables issue tickets. (J.P. Moczulski/Canadian Press)

Facing a $20 million revenue loss for 2016, the TTC is warning schools and parents to get teens to stop scamming rides on the system, or their kids will face steep fines.

"I am writing to you today seeking your support to address this behaviour with your kid(s)," writes Chris Upfold, Deputy CEO and Chief Customer Operator in a letter sent to all schools in the Toronto District and Catholic School Boards.

Along with the call for parental reinforcement, the letter reminds parents of the current fare policy.

  • Children ages 12 and under ride for free.
  • Students ages 13 to 19 must pay $2.00 or use a student ticket.

The letter then outlines that students aged 16 to 19 must travel with photo identification and the TTC will start cracking down on those who can't prove it.

"In the coming weeks we will begin ticketing students who aren't able to prove they have paid the appropriate fare."

They won't go easy on the teens either. The fine for fare evasion is $235,  no matter what the age of the offender.

"It makes it difficult on our operators whose job isn't to enforce the fares," TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said.

'We don't want to do any of this'

Ross says if drivers suspect teens are trying to pass for someone younger, they will call ahead for a special constable to board the bus or stop service altogether.

 "We don't want to do any of this," said Ross.

"It's really about educating and informing schools and parents about the need to pay their fare."

Some Catholic schools went as far as putting up posters last month reminding students of the fares and fines.

Ross said the letter doesn't introduce anything new, instead it's just a reminder that high school students need to pay the correct fare.

"As we say, fare is fair," Ross added.  

Presto could be the answer

Ross says the transition to Presto cards next year will weed out most of the scammers.  

Cards issued to children under 12 will be a different colour than youth cards — which allow passengers between 13 and 19 to pay $1.95.

Youth Presto cards will be printed with photo identification.