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Free rides on TTC urged for politicians


If elected politicians rode the TTC more often, they might be more inclined to support public transit financially, the chair of the Toronto Transit Commission says.

Consequently, at tomorrow’s meeting of the TTC, Councillor Betty Disero will try to get her fellow commissioners to approve free passes for members who represent Toronto seats in the Commons and in the Ontario Legislature.

“I want them to use the system,” Ms. Disero said. “I want them to begin to take some ownership, get familiar with the system.”

But Ms. Disero added she does not expect that a pass will turn the politicians into dedicated transit riders who use the system to commute to work when they are in the city.

“I want the card in their wallet so every time they open their wallet, they see the TTC,” she said.

The theory is that with the TTC card in the wallet, the politicians will be more inclined to open government coffers to support transit.

The passes cost $93.50 a month, which means that, on the face of it, it would cost the TTC just over $49,000 a year to issue them to 22 MPs and 22 MPPs. Toronto’s 44 city councillors and Mayor Mel Lastman already get system passes.

But Ms. Disero said the actual cost to the transit system would be less than the value on paper, as all it would cost the TTC would be the loss of the fares that the senior politicians pay the few times they use public transit in the city.

“They [MPs and MPPs] don’t take it now,” Ms. Disero said.

The cost estimate is based on a politician taking 52 rides a month.

“It would be great if they would take it that much, but I don’t think they will,” she said.

She also said the idea was before council during last spring’s budget debate and was voted down. But the TTC could simply proceed to issue the passes, which she said does not need council approval.