Those Vanishing Tokens

Today the TTC announced that token purchases, originally limited to 10-per-customer in the face of a coming fare hike, would now be limited to 5-per person.  If a station collector has run out of tokens, you will pay the cash fare of $2.75.

This has to rank among the more bone-headed moves the TTC has made.

The TTC has a fetish for collecting money, and the more it can get, the better.  In the name of eliminating bogus tickets, the TTC got rid of them for adults.  Ooops!  That was the fallback medium everyone used in the period when tokens vanished before a fare increase, but now it’s gone.

Some people may try to switch to a Metropass rather than taking a chance on token availability during December.  Indeed, some regular pass users who switch to tokens for that “short” month (from a commuter’s point of view) may stay with the Metropass.  Will the TTC have enough?  Don’t count on it, and it’s far too late for them to order more.  If you’re planning to buy a pass, don’t wait until November 30th.

Paying that cash fare doesn’t just hit riders for one direction on their trip.  Someone commuting home via the subway with a bus or streetcar at the end of their trip may try, but fail, to get tokens on their outward trip.  The next morning, they still won’t have tokens and will have to pay cash again for the inbound journey.

If the TTC had wanted to be the tiniest bit generous, it would have lowered the cash fare to $2.50 for the period leading up to the fare hike, at least trying to meet riders half way.  But, no.  The problem the TTC itself created will cost riders 50 cents more per trip for the next seven weeks.

Behind all this lurks the question of smart cards on the TTC.  Once fare collection is automated, the amount of fare can be changed on a whim, with no lead time, and no possibility of hoarding.  However, a lot comes along for the ride with the technology.

The original estimate for implementing Presto! on the TTC was $140-million, and the TTC got Federal funding (CSIF) to pay for it.  There was a small problem.  The estimate ballooned by another $277-million with no money in sight.  (This is one of those many “below the line” projects in the Capital Budget, hidden, but lurking.)

There are many unanswered questions about Smart Cards for Toronto.

  • What is so expensive about bringing them to the TTC?
  • Why is there no public report with details of the new, higher estimate, only a few pages buried in the capital budget (page 1,533 for dedicated readers)?
  • How much will it cost to operate and maintain the new system compared to the existing one, even allowing for the supposed reduction in fare evasion?
  • How much real enforcement will the TTC put in place?
  • What fare structure is contemplated?
  • Is the system designed with an expensive, complex back-end to aid in detailed trip tracking and billing?  What will be the marginal costs and benefits of such a system?
  • What is the role of credit/debit cards as the “smart card” medium rather than a dedicated system?
  • Who will own and maintain the system?  The TTC or Metrolinx?

The world-wide embrace of smart technology shows us that this is hardly something new, something Ontario and Toronto have to develop from scratch.  What’s the problem?

A huge, hidden issue has nothing to do with technology, but with subsidies.  Everyone talks about getting rid of fare boundaries, and there are many ways to slice that pie.  (Please, readers, don’t send in your proposals yet again, I will delete them.)  But switching the fare revenue around inevitably means that some will pay more so that others pay less.

“Paying more” can be achieved by raising some of the fares, but it can also be achieved with increased subsidies.  These are tradeoffs nobody wants to talk about.

To both TTC and Metrolinx:  Stop hiding this debate behind closed doors and start talking about how fares might be collected in a unified system.  How will fares be used to attract both the long-haul commuter and the casual, short-trip rider?  How will boundaries between systems, including those with GO Transit, be eliminated?  When will fares and service be treated as tools to encourage people out of their cars, to support local and regional planning ambitions, not just nuisances to be debated every year at budget time?

34 thoughts on “Those Vanishing Tokens

  1. Is there any possibility of the TTC ordering a bunch of “temporary” tickets, to be used only during periods before a planned fare increase? (i.e. they would not be sold the rest of the time)

    Steve: Nice idea, wish the TTC had thought of it, but too late to be done for this round.


  2. If my memory serves me correctly, the TTC has extra tokens that normally do not circulate. Why not release them?

    Or better yet, just get enough tokens to accomodate demand in the pre-fare-hike periods. This is an interest-free loan to the TTC, so I would think that the penny-pinchers would like it.

    Steve: They are supposed to have lots of tokens, but once people start buying and hoarding them, they will disappear fairly quickly, and stay out of sight until the fares go up.


  3. This is too bad, since I actually buy tokens when I need them, and have recently run out. Since surface route operators don’t give change, am I supposed to travel with a roll each of toonies and quarters for when I ride the streetcar?

    I think that it is a more likely outcome that I will tell the driver that the idiots in TTC management have decided I cannot buy tokens for the time being, and therefore I get to ride for free until such time as they can sell me more tokens.

    Steve, why doesn’t the TTC raise fares the day after approving the increase? It seems to me that that would save all of this nonsense.

    Steve: The TTC has not “approved” anything. The staff put out a press release saying that they would be recommending a fare hike at the Commission meeting on November 17. There had been a lot of speculation, some of it on this site, about what a fare increase would look like given the known financial problems of the TTC’s 2010 Operating Budget.

    My aim was to flush out a scheme to bump the Metropass disproportionately to tokens, and that’s exactly what we got. At the political level, folks are not quite so sure, and there’s a good chance that the staff proposal will be amended.

    Because the TTC has many systems that are tied to the current value of fare media, it’s not the sort of thing they can change overnight. Smart Cards will fix that, but they’re years away. There’s an article about this over on the Torontoist site.


  4. I think we’re missing something when talking about the ‘temporary’ tickets before a fare increase.

    When adult tickets were in place they were not immune to fare increases. I seem to remember that when the fare went up in the past you used to have to present a ticket PLUS the difference in cash, no? It was only tokens that were immune from the increase.

    So, yes, the temporary tickets would solve the hoarding problem (no advantage to buying ahead) but tokens would still be gone pretty quick.

    Steve: Tokens will always be hoarded because they automatically go up in value when there is a fare increase. Temporary tickets at least allow people to pay at the multiple fare rate during the period when tokens vanish.


  5. I’ve been hearing that the Metropass will eventually be phased out for this new smart card. I for one have never been in favour of automated fare collection or Smart cards or the like. Wherever you go, a fare is deducted from your card and you’d have to fill it up somewhere if you don’t have enough.

    The problem is for people formerly like myself who used to rely on a metropass for even the most menial tasks. For example, my laundromat as well as the supermarket were only accessible by bus, and the Metropass was a convenient way to do my errands. I may no longer rely on transit to do those things now, but with Smart cards, I’d have to rethink every trip that I make to the Laundromat. Rethink every trip to the Supermarket. Rethink every trip to visit my uncle in hospital. And so on.

    Someone said that raising the prices of metropasses unfairly hits those who need it the most, people like myself. The Smart card unfortunately appears to be headed in the same direction. Not everyone has deep pockets to use in their everyday lives.

    Steve: A Smart Card can have the option of weekly, monthly or any other “flat fare”. The question is whether the introduction of this card is used as an excuse to get rid of that fare option. The technology and the policy decisions are separate. Anyone who says that “we have to do it this way” because of Smart Cards is hiding a policy decision behind technology. “The computer can’t do it” is a poor excuse for anything.


  6. Weekly passes may be the saviour, partly because that is all that is left. I am on the MDP but in the event I somehow lose my pass, I may be forced to take alternative methods to pay my fare. I like to keep tokens for ‘just in case’ scenarios, but as luck would have it I was running low when this announcement was made. It may then come down to Weekly passes being the only thing left, but even those could run dry.

    If I am somehow forced into this situation, I for one will get a GTA weekly pass, and use the extra fare ability to enjoy myself on the weekends with free trips on YRT, DRT, BT, MT, and VIVA.


  7. Also, to respond to Jonathan, please do not break the law/rules just because they are stupid. I am a security guard, and it is my job to enforce the laws/rules, even the ones I think are stupid (especially the ones I think are stupid – since those are the ones that get broken most often). If I don’t do it, I get fired, but I don’t have any problem with it because I don’t hate lawyers. Why? Because lawyers just interpret stupid laws, politicians write them. If you have a problem with the stupididty of the system, don’t take it out on the streetcar driver. There’s nothing he/she can do about it.

    On one occasion a very angry lady boarded a very late bus and told the driver she was not going to pay because she had been waiting for so long. I actually then said “I will pay for you”, only to find that I only had $20s. I had backed myself into the corner, but threw one in anyway. I told the driver that I prob should not have done that, but that if I had to “waste $17 on something” that I’d rather “The TTC have it than anyone else”. Each fare that goes unpaid is a fraction (though a small fraction) of a bus that is missing from service on a over-crowded route.


  8. Steve wrote:
    “They are supposed to have lots of tokens, but once people start buying and hoarding them, they will disappear fairly quickly, and stay out of sight until the fares go up.”

    Kevin’s question:
    This is a bad thing? It is an interest-free loan to the TTC. And I suspect that enough of the tokens will be lost that the TTC will make a bundle. How much does the TTC normally profit on lost tokens?

    I strongly suspect that restricting the supply creates hype that blows this whole thing out of proportion. The whole “run on the bank” phenomenon. What would happen if the TTC were to bring out its token reserve and just sell as many to the hoarders as they wanted to buy?

    Steve: The money the TTC would make on the short term market is much less than they would lose in, effectively, a deferred fare increase.


  9. Eric Chow wrote, “I for one have never been in favour of automated fare collection or Smart cards or the like,” then said, “Someone said that raising the prices of metropasses unfairly hits those who need it the most, people like myself.”

    Smart cards can make it easier for those least able to afford passes, but only if they are used to that advantage. I am skeptical that the TTC would be keen to implement this, particularly since it is related to time-based fares.

    With fare “caps” for pass prices, the system stops deducting the pre-paid balance once you reach the price of the pass for the unit of time it is reached in. This means that one does NOT have to pay for the pass in full before the period starts, as they do now, nor are they committed to purchasing the pass once the period is underway.

    Consider one day of transit: at the start of the day, do you pay $9 for the pass or use tokens at $2.25 each ride? Four rides is the break even point, and you need to know at the start of the day which will be more economical. Buy the pass and end up using it three times, you lose. Choose tokens and end up needing five rides, you lose.

    With a smart card (and time-based transfers), when one first boards, the $2.25 is deducted. Boarding another vehicle during the ‘paid’ time does not deduct any more. The first boarding after that deducts another $2.25, and so on throughout the day until $9 has been deducted, then all boardings until the end of the service day do not deduct anything further. No need to decide if you need the day pass or not, and you only have to have pre-paid fares to get you to where you will add more to the card. This lets you start your day-long journey with only $2.25 on the card, not the full day pass amount. You just have to add more value to it before you only need it.

    The cycle would start again on the next day, except that during the period of a weekly pass, the deductions would stop at $32.25, the price of the weekly pass. Again, it is not necessary to have to fork out $32.25 before the first ride of the week. The same goes for the capping the amount deducted in the month to $109.

    A nice idea, but it all hinges on whether the TTC would implement this logic in the system.


  10. So what if I go to a token machine and insert a $20 note? Will I still get 8 tokens and $2, or will it give me 5 tokens and $8.75? Of course, I could just keep feeding in $10 notes until I had sufficient tokens… or will/are all the token machiens mysteriously out of tokens?


  11. Nick,

    Don’t worry, I am always polite to TTC operators. My point was that it is unreasonable to expect people to have exact change or be able to enter the system at a subway station where they can get change for a single fare.

    What happens to supplies for authorized TTC sales agents like convenience stores during ’embargo periods’?

    Steve: I suspect that the supplies will dry up as the number of tokens in circulation falls.


  12. “so what if I go to a token machine and insert a $20 note?”

    I did just this thing this morning.
    Got 8 tokens and 2 loonies.

    Plan to do the same time again tomorrow morning.


  13. Tom West wrote: “So what if I go to a token machine and insert a $20 note? Will I still get 8 tokens and $2, or will it give me 5 tokens and $8.75?”

    You’ll get one token (if there are any left) and $17.75 in change. Fun eh?


  14. This drives me nuts.

    I had a half-dozen tokens in my wallet this morning. Normally, this would mean that I would try to remember to buy tokens in the next day or two. But today the TTC is rationing tokens, and I know that this means that at some point in the next couple of weeks I will be unable to buy tokens when I need them. So I took four tens and fed them into the token machine, and I will continue to buy tokens every time it’s convenient. My wife will do the same.

    So, in its wisdom, the TTC has provoked me into exactly the kind of behaviour it’s trying to prevent. It’s not about trying to save money after the fare hike, it’s about not wanting to have to pay the cash fare… and often have to wait in line for the privilege.


  15. I love the TTC: single-ended streetcars, trolley poles, and metal tokens.

    Steve: Look on the bright side. By the time Transit City lines are running, there will be double-ended LRVs, pantographs and smart cards.


  16. Nick – Congratulations for “investing” and additional $17.25 in support of your principles. It is imperative that we all treat TTC Operators (even the grumpy ones) with respect and principles are priceless. Unlike many of us who make an impulsive action that we later regret, you can Hold Your Head High.

    Calvin – very good explanation of the Smart Card Fare caps. In London – using my Oyster Card several times a day – I “beat” the fare caps on a number of occasions. It gave me enormous pleasure to visit the monitors in the Tube Stations and see all my “free” rides listed. In Toronto, I don’t need to commute by TTC (work at home and occasionally have to drive to Mississauga). I don’t keep track of whether or not I make a “profit” on my MetroPass. I just have one so I can access “Transit on Demand” without hassle. However, in London, I sure did revel in those electronically tracked “free” trips.


  17. We have a wonderful fare system, if it’s 1909. Personally I can’t see why the smart card system is so expensive, heck other cities have done it, heck I think London in the UK did it a few years ago. A whole whack of US cities have done it. The intelligent thing for the TTC management to do, is contact some of the folks who have done it, and see what they have done. With Presto, it’s either a very poor design, in which case it should be scrapped, or it should be a lot cheaper then it is.

    What would make the most sense is for a third party to own the Smart card equipment and tracking mechanism, and then lease the equipment to the TTC and various other members of the Metrolinx family transit agencies, for a commission. Say for example the third party charges a 3% commission per fare. TTC currently charges $2.75 so the company would charge 8¼¢ per fare in commission. The equipment leased would be that which is used to verify the fare, the TTC would allow that company a small space in stations for card issuing and renewals.

    I like the idea of maximums, for daily, weekly, monthly, that someone else posted. Shouldn’t be hard to do. Another option, would be the company that runs the system would have a web site, putting in your card number would allow you to examine and print out a transaction page and tax receipt.

    Steve: It’s hard to compare implementations from city to city. In some cases such as London, there was an overriding need to replace an antique fare collection system. Some costs would have been incurred whether or not smart cards came as part of the package.

    As for leasing, using your model, 3% of today’s $900m revenue stream is $27m. If TTC figures are to be believed, the cost of operating and maintaining the system, never mind financing the installation, would eat up a considerable chunk of that.


  18. Way back when (as of half a week ago) when the TTC initially decided to limit tokens to 10 at a time, an article in the Globe and Mail published some stats on tokens.

    “The TTC has 40 million tokens. About 10 million are in general circulation, with another 15 million in the hands of the public. The rest are warehoused. Each day, 600,000 tokens come into the system and 400,000 are packaged and recirculated.”

    Presumably “general circulation” means at TTC booths and agents, ready to be purchased by riders. This means there are 15 million in storage. I am not sure what the discrepancy is between the 600k and 400k numbers.

    Steve: I believe they are releasing 600k tokens from inventory, and 400k are used as fares and come back into the system. By implication, there are 15m tokens still in the warehouse. If 3m are required each week (600k per day for 5 weekdays), that will last until mid-December, and that’s with restrictions on the number people can buy.

    If all 40m tokens are out in the public’s hands when the fares go up, they will be worth $10-million more than today. That’s part of the cost of doing business, from my point of view.


  19. 23skidoo: I love the TTC: single-ended streetcars, trolley poles, and metal tokens.

    Steve: Look on the bright side. By the time Transit City lines are running, there will be double-ended LRVs, pantographs and smart cards.

    And will these necessarily be better? Time will tell…. double-ended LRVs at infrequent headways, pantographs with inevitable overhead problems and smart cards that make pass holders swipe or tap every time. Are those really an improvement? I might throw my lot in with the single-ended streetcars, trolley poles and metal tokens.


  20. I feel bad for the folks that rely on tokens. Come on, 5 tokens will only cover 2 days of work with one stopover. Doesn’t the TTC realize that people need to travel to AND from work/school? A 5 token limit will mean even more lineups at booths and machines. I imagine some people will just end up buying a weekly pass here and there to avoid the hassle.


  21. I just noticed on Brad Ross’ Twitter Feed

    “The one-token-only restriction is at auto entrances where there isn’t a collector. Other machines allow for bulk purchases.”

    If one can purchase tokens in bulk from the machines, how will the limit of 5 @ a collectors booth help??


  22. I used to ride the TTC a lot more and even bought Metro passes quite often, but now it’s mostly my back-up for when I’m not cycling to work or wherever. Most of the time, I’ll consider the bike (or combine it with GO where feasible).

    It’s bad enough that unlike transit systems in cities I’ve visited such as Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco and AC Transit, the TTC doesn’t offer timed (2 to 2.5 hour, any direction) which means at least 2 fares for a round trip of 2 hour or less, but then token restrictions brought on through propose fare hikes just makes those trips potentially even more expensive. I know some of this is due to the paltry subsidies the TTC gets for senior levels of government, but still, I have to wonder over why it gets yet more expensive. Motorists rarely factor in other costs to operating their car, looking over a cost of gas, so hiking fares certainly only encourages those with cars to consider driving over transit, especially when they feel the car is already faster and more convenient (unless one is driving downtown ). Of course service cuts have an even greater impact.

    Interestingly, the other day on CBC’s Metro Morning, I heard their daily business commentator suggest that the TTC should be free, with the City capturing the cost through property tax – he argued the TTC was infrastructure, much like roads or sidewalks and with no need to collect fares, there would be savings in operating costs. Must say the idea sounded like a non-starter, especially in the transit is largely seen as a service, thus “fee for service”. However I do know Seattle did have a free fare zone where all trips within the zone were free – only if one travelled outside the zone would a fare be collected. The idea was obviously to encourage transit use.


    Steve: The TTC loves to paint a timed fare as “too expensive”, but we learned recently that the estimated annual loss in revenue would be $15-20 million. That’s not a vast amount of money in the overall scheme of TTC finances. Even if the cost were picked up entirely from the farebox, this represents well under 5% of the total farebox revenue (over $800m in 2009). Would riders pay a higher fare for this type of limited-time ride-at-will arrangement? Has anyone asked them? Has the TTC ever offered this among a package of fare options for public debate?


  23. The way I see it, the perceived value is much higher than 5%.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I think that if the TTC had proposed fares that were 5% higher (or a bit more) than what is currently proposed but with 2 hour transfers, the increase would go over a lot better.

    Steve: I agree, but we will inevitably hear about how the freeloaders are wrecking the system. I am really getting tired of the staff spinning policy rather than presenting options for political decisions.


  24. If and when smartcards come to TTC, I wonder if it will take the chance to be bold and introduce cappnig arranagments? In London, you never need to buy a daily or weekly pass for your smartcard — the system ensures you never pay more than the daily pass cost for travel in one day. (Paper versions still exist).

    On the other hand, they may go down the GO Transit route and introduce a loyalty scheme of some sort, to ensure no-one ever gets ‘free’ rides (goodbye Metropass!).

    Steve, is there any chance you could do a post about GO’s loyalty scheme, and whether or not TTC (and other transit providers) should do something similar?

    Steve: GO’s fare structure as described on the linked page is very much oriented to weekday commuting. Basically, it tops out at 40 fares and charges only a tiny additional amount beyond that point. GO doesn’t run the kind of service that would encourage ad hoc trips within a day, or even a burst of travel within one week, but they need to think that through as they move toward frequent all-day service.

    On a more general note, nobody’s fare structure, not the TTC’s, not GO’s, will survive unchanged into a unified Smart Card system. That’s the whole point — give systems the ability to integrate and offer system wide benefits. That also means revenue and cost sharing, something nobody wants to talk about.

    In Montreal, the new OPUS card was well-received because the financing was put into place to guarantee that local systems would keep their revenue. That extra money didn’t come out of the air, but as extra subsidies. If Metrolinx isn’t willing to talk about that sort of arrangement, it doesn’t matter how you organize the operation of service, you will have to deal with the problem that those who now use multiple systems pay more than they likely will in an integrated environment. GO’s rail service, once truly integrated in the fare structure (even with a premium), will have to deal with the demand issues of new riding patterns.


  25. Toronto Sun Article by Jenny Yuen, 11, Nov. 2009.

    “Tokens sold at machines will be limited to one per customer. There is no limit for TTC ticket sales, Nicholson said. ”

    Aside from students, children and seniors does the TTC still sell tickets? I don’t get into Toronto that often and use a day pass when I do but I thought adult tickets were abolished to stop counterfeiting. Did Nicholson not read that memo.


  26. The TTC really does not have a choice but to raise fares or cut service. True they could look at some more progressive forms of ticketing but all these changes cost money and need to be approved or funded by the City, Provincial and or Federal governments. Most of the protest should go to these levels of Government, especially the latter two.

    The people who object to a tax increase for transit usually have no problem with spending on their roads. But don’t you dare suggest that their use of the roads is subsidized. If the operating, maintenance and construction charges were “funded at the same level as the TTC they would be paying a lot of tolls. I know they are going to scream that their “Gas Tax” covers that but driving has other hidden expenses in health costs, lost return from a more beneficial use of land that would pay property taxes etc. Let’s get them to agree that roads and transit should be subsidized and taxed at the same level. I bet they will be surprised when the road toll bill comes in.


  27. From a website on honesty about the gas tax:

    This year [2003] Canadian motorists are paying, on average, between 35 and 47% taxes at the pumps,” stated CTF British Columbia director Victor Vrsnik. The federal government raked in $4.7 billion last year in fuel taxes, but spent only $119 million […] on roads.

    From a 2007 article on John Tory:

    Tory promised that, by the end of five years, he will spend all of the $3.14-billion raised by provincial gas and fuel taxes on highways and transit. He said that amount exceeds current Liberal spending on such projects by about $1-billion.
    Tory noted that gas tax money goes into the general revenue pot, and Queen’s Park spends only part of that revenue on transportation infrastructure.

    Also note that in 1997-1998 the province downloaded care for dozens, maybe hundreds of highways to local municipalities.

    Steve: Tory’s promises are one thing, but if he is going to shift all of that money over to transportation, he will have to replace the revenue elsewhere in the budget, or stop funding whatever it is paying for.


  28. Today I discovered that they sold out of tokens at booths of Dundas station. Most token dispensers in downtown core have “Out of service” flashing. It’s only the 11th of November, these tokens are vanishing really fast.


  29. There is one important diffference this time. In past, it was a perfectly rational move economically to hoard tokens and use tickets up until the fare increase kicked in. But now, without adult fare tickets as an alternative, hoarding tokens doesn’t make as much sense, because the hoarder will end up PAYING CASH, thereby negating the potential savings of buying up all those pre-fare-increase tokens. So tokens should continue to circulate.


  30. Laurie Gordon says: “The federal government raked in $4.7 billion last year in fuel taxes, but spent only $119 million […] on roads. ”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t most spending on roads done by provincial and municipal governments? I don’t have any figures to hand, but I bet the total spending on Canada’s roads is more than $4.7bn. Also, money flows from the federal goverment downward… and again, I bet the amount that goes downward is more than $4.7bn.

    Overall, I suspect that total spending on Canada’s roads is more than the amount received through the gas tax. I admit this is my instinct, so feel free to provide figures that prove me wrong (or right!).

    Of course, there is question of whether users or the general populace should pay for transport, but that’s anotheer question entirely.


  31. The TTC could also do what other transit agencies (Mississauga Transit for example), and make the cash fare a flat rate ($2.75 now or maybe $3.00 in the future) for anyone. If you want to save money, you purchase tickets, tokens, or a pass. While it’s nice to say that seniors, students, and children can save money if they pay cash, but if the TTC is so cash stripped, this is a solution (of course let’s not forget that Missisauga also has time based transfers for a $3.00 cash fare as well as monthly and yearly passes for seniors.)

    Steve: TTC has monthly and annual (subscription) passes for Senior too. Given the proportion of all fares paid by cash by the various concession groups, I don’t think this is going to raise buckets of money. Moreover, it’s a one-time fix just as the rise several years ago in student/senior pricing relative to adult fares was.


  32. Steve, the point is not to generate a lot more revenue – but to bring the TTC in line with other local transit agencies (whose practises the TTC could potentially use), but any extra revenue would not hurt.


  33. Aaron, you are not correct. Without tickets, and with the TTC’s plan to charge $2.75 when tokens run out, there is even more incentive to hoard.

    The hoarder is guaranteed a return on invenstment equal to the fare increase for each token they collect, plus if tokens run out they will have the opportunity to use them in December to save 50 cents over the cash fare. Hoarding tokens is pretty much the best investment out there, certainly beating the stock market and what-not.

    For these reasons I carry tokens in case I need them, but still buy 5 every time I ride the subway. Unfortunately this does not work for people who cannot afford to hoard tokens, or who do not normally board at a subway station .. but any inequity is the TTC’s fault as they designed the fare system this way.

    Just another reason to introduce a smart card instead of using antiquated tokens. People from other countries laugh when they use TTC tokens for the first time. It’s sad we still have them.


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