By Elayne Teixeira Millar
The price of public transportation in Toronto has been hiked up for the New Year due to pressures from Mayor Rob Ford’s 2012 operating budget cuts — something Ryerson student commuters are not happy with.
“It’s a battle against the working class. [The Ford government] doesn’t want to raise taxes for the rich people so they prey on the students and working people to pay for transit,” says recently graduated Ryerson civil engineering student, Peter Mikhailenko.
Since Jan. 1 2012 the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) has implemented a 10 cent fare increase. While cash fare remains priced at $3 for 2012, the price of a token has risen to $2.60, up from $2.50, and a student metropass has risen to $104, up from $99. In addition to this year’s increase, the Commission plans to raise fares by 10 cents each year over the next three years, making the cost of a token 30 cents more than today’s fare by 2015.
GO transit has also announced an increase of an average of 35 cents in its fare starting Feb. 18. A GO transit monthly pass for students will now only save riders 30 per cent on fares rather than the previous 32 per cent.
Muhammad Farooq, a fourth-year business student who works at the Member Services Office in the Student Centre Lobby, sells TTC student passes and tokens on a regular basis and notes that students are complaining about the increase in price.
“They don’t really have any other choice,” he said. “Compared to how much we pay for Ryerson tuition, $5 more [for the metropass] is not that much, but it does suck”.
Like many student commuters, second-year journalism student Christina Ciddio is living on a tight budget.
“[The TTC is] dipping into our pockets again,” she said. “It’s bad enough we have to pay high tuition fees and wait in line to take a picture for a post-secondary ID which costs around $10, now on top of all that we have to pay $5 more a month. It is ridiculous.”
In order to fix the transit system, Ciddio and Mikhailenko both agree that Toronto should look to other big cities for inspiration.
“Other cities have lower fare prices and better transit systems because they’re taking higher percentages from taxes,” Ciddio said.
“Toronto needs to get it together if they want to be in the ranks of places such as Chicago, Paris and London.”
“We need a sustainable transit system like they do in Europe, where it’s cheap because their government supports the working people and students,” Mikhailenko said. “But there just isn’t that kind of thinking here.”