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Big Changes Coming To TTC Metropasses


Wednesday June 3, 2009 Staff

If you buy a Metropass every month or any other weekly or daily admission to the TTC, get ready for it to have a new look. The Toronto Transit Commission has confirmed it’s changing the way those cards appear, including adding some local artwork that best represents the city.

But it’s not just cosmetic. It’s being done to prevent fraud that’s been costing the system a fortune.

The new pass will require some small intervention from you. “There will be a sticker on the Metropasses that will have to be peeled off,” reveals Chair Adam Giambrone. “[Underneath,] there’s a new hologram, which will prevent the actual duplication by photocopying or other advanced printer techniques.”

The problem of the fake passes was highlighted last month, when a blitz by Toronto Police resulted in 30 arrests, turned up 96 suspects and left two people facing charges that they produced the fake items.

The TTC says the problem isn’t in the passes themselves - the swipe strip on the back used at automatic terminals and subway stations has never been counterfeited. The real difficulty comes when the faux cards are flashed at drivers and collectors, who have no way to verify that they’re the real thing.

The new design will prevent that and it’s part of the future migration towards smart cards. “We may be rolling out more programs in the future to actually install swipe access on all of our vehicles and at subway stations,” Giambrone reveals. “This will allow us to have an actual visible verification.”

The art project will be announced in the fall and will solicit local artists to display their visions of life in Toronto. Those will be on the streets by April 2010 and the Commission will reveal how to get your work in for consideration sometime this fall.

Like the token overhaul of a few years ago, the revamp won’t be cheap but officials say it has to be done. “We were concerned that if we did not take action, this could end up costing the TTC a couple of million dollars a year,” the Chair concludes.

Chief GM Gary Webster says it’s not a small matter. The TTC sells over 260,000 passes a month, representing more than 40 per cent of its annual fare revenue. They seize about 500 fakes a year, a free ride that officials estimate costs them at least $2 million annually.