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Riders get break on TTC tickets

Published On Mon Jan 25 2010


A surge in the number of people hoarding tokens resulted in delays at many collector booths as the automated turnstiles were rendered useless. Commuters now have until the end of March 2010 to use them or get refunds.


Denise Balkissoon
Staff Reporter

A fare hike, a massive subway shutdown and the snoozing ticket collectors scandal: after months of criticism, the TTC is throwing fed-up riders a bone.

People with unused paper tickets can now exchange or refund them until the end of March.

The tickets were an emergency measure, printed late last year after a fare hike announcement spurred token hoarding that caught the transit system off guard.

Penny-pinching riders have always stocked up on tokens before a price increase, but, since tickets were discontinued in 2008, last year’s run on tokens left the TTC empty-handed.

So, the temporary tickets. Since the Jan. 3 increase, riders using the slips of paper have had to add 25 cents to their fare to make up the difference. After Jan. 31, the tickets will no longer be valid fares.

Although leftover student, senior and children’s tickets could be returned or exchanged after that date, paper adult tickets had been set to become worthless on Feb. 1.

Now, riders are being given a two-month grace period to get their money back or exchange the tickets for higher-priced tokens.

The turnabout came after unhappy customers wanted to know what to do with their unused tickets, said TTC spokesperson Brad Ross.

“I wouldn’t say a lot of riders complained,” said Ross. “We had enough feedback to say okay, we need some fairness for customers who bought tickets and haven’t used them for whatever reason.”

TTC vice-chair Joe Mihevc said Sunday that the original reason for having the tickets expire was to deter fakes.

“We have to make them time limited,” said the councillor for St. Paul’s West.

“If they’re out there a long period of time, it becomes possible to counterfeit them.”

From February 1 to March 31, riders should take their unused tickets to the south entrance of Bloor-Yonge station or to TTC headquarters at Davisville station between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., where they can be refunded on the spot.

Anyone wanting to refund a “high volume” of paper tickets will have to wait for the commission to verify the authenticity of the tickets before receiving a cheque in the mail, said Ross.

The very need to replace little metal tokens with coloured paper tickets brought up a nagging issue for the TTC - why the transit system hasn’t switched to electronic smart cards to eliminate the hoarding issue. Used in New York and Hong Kong since the mid-’90s, the cards allow riders to use debit and credit cards to bank money on magnetic swipe cards used to enter and exit transit systems.

Right now, a provincial smart card pilot program, Presto, is being tested on various GTA transit systems, including a few TTC stations. The earliest the cards could become available to all TTC riders is 2013.

The past few months have been a series of disasters for transit riders. The day after the fare hike was announced in mid-November, there was a six-hour Yonge line shutdown during the evening rush hour.

Next up was the token shortage caused by hoarding, followed by the last-minute tickets, which caused delays at collector booths.

This past week, the TTC was red-faced after rider photos of an employee napping on the job were widely circulated on the Internet, unleashing a torrent of criticism and complaints.

It remains to be seen how far refunding a few paper tickets will go in soothing the cranky public.


TTC riders have until Jan. 31 to top up their tickets with 25 cents, or they can seek a refund until March 31.

Where to go: South entrance of Bloor-Yonge station or the TTC headquarters at Davisville station.

When: From Feb. 1 to March 31 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

What to do: Hand over your tickets and get a refund on the spot. Those with a high volume of tickets will get a cheque in the mail.