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New Ticket Shows TTC's Age


Saturday, March 12, 2005

A close look at those new, more expensive Toronto Transit Commission tickets introduced this week reveals something strange. In the top left-hand corner, a logo commemorates the 50th anniversary of the TTC’s subway system, 1954 to 2004.

Wasn’t that last year?

Well, yes, admits Lynn Hilborn, the TTC’s deputy general manager for corporate affairs, adding that the transit commission knows what year it is. He then explains that these tickets are not exactly hot off the presses.

The new design was actually created last year, when the TTC was preparing its 2004 budget and anticipating a fare hike. Thanks to last-minute emergency funding from the province, the increase was avoided — unlike this year, when the city’s budget squeeze added 10 cents to the price of tokens or tickets and a quarter to the cash fare.

By the time the 2004 provincial funding was announced, TTC officials had already gone ahead and printed a $200,000 batch of 60 million new tickets — about a six-month supply — in case fares did rise. (The ticket design needs to change every time the price goes up so the TTC knows riders are paying the right fare.)

With a fare increase postponed, the now-redundant tickets — which also incorporate new anti-counterfeiting features were kept in storage. “What do you do?” Mr. Hilborn says. “Grind up the tickets and just eat the cost?”

Or do you issue them the next time the TTC hikes fares, regardless of how distant a memory the subway’s 50th anniversary is?

The choice for the cash-strapped TTC was simple: “We’re proud to be cheap,” Mr. Hilborn says.

Kal Bedder, TTC print and electronic information supervisor, came up with the 50th-anniversary logo — which features one of the TTC’s original red Gloucester subway cars — and designed the ticket. He says more creative designs are on the way. “It will continue to evolve into a cleaner, bolder, more modern look.”

Mr. Hilborn says he ordered the marketing department to take over the design of what the TTC calls its “fare media” a few years ago after a committee of other in-house officials came up with a “funny-looking” design for the children’s ticket that featured a clown. “I said, ‘Marketing is doing this from now on.’ Do you know how many kids are afraid of clowns?”