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TTC to ban distributors of 3 commuter papers

Metro lays off some vendors of free dailies

Madhavi Acharya
BUSINESS REPORTER

Today is the last day street vendors who hawk Toronto’s three commuter newspapers will be standing in front of subway entrances.

Starting Monday, distributors will not be allowed to hand out the free dailies on TTC property, under an agreement reached by the Toronto Transit Commission and the owners of GTA Today, FYI Toronto, and Metro.

In a related move, Swedish-owned Metro has laid off some of its vendors.

“We’ve had assurances that starting on Monday (distributors) won’t be there handing out papers at entrances to subway stations and in commuter parking lots,” said TTC general manager Vince Rodo.

“It’s our hope that if people actually have to go to a box and select the paper they want, that means they really wanted it, and they’ll take it out of the subway system with them,” Rodo said.

The TTC has added scores of recycling boxes to its stations because of the commuter papers, he added.

“We’ll still have people out handing out FYI but not on TTC property,” said Tim Driscoll of Sun Media Corp.’s FYI.

GTA Today, owned by Torstar Media Group, which also owns The Star, will also abide by the agreement, said publisher Andrew Go.

“There will still be distributors,” Go said.

“There might be other promotions in other places from time to time.”

Distributor Larry Bettridge was surprised to receive a notice from Metro yesterday saying his services are no longer needed.

“We had heard about it,” Bettridge said. “We were checking for weeks to see if this was going to happen, and we were told it wasn’t.

“Then this came up.”

It is unclear how many Metro distributors have lost their jobs.

Publisher Greg Lutes and Steve Angelevski, director of operations and distribution, were both out of the country.

They did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Bettridge said he knows of 14 workers, including three supervisors, who are out of work as a result of the layoffs.

The TTC has used money contributed by the tabloids to help pay for 11 full-time custodial staff who have been hired to collect the discarded papers.

The three free tabloids, all aimed at weekday users of the TTC and GO Transit, were launched last summer, escalating Toronto’s newspaper war, which already pitted four English-language dailies against each other.




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