Updated February 15, 2020 at 10:00 am:
Additional information from the TTC has been added to clarify some issues raised here including:
- How the number of child card taps relates to the number of rides.
- Which “average fare” is the one used in loss calculations for fare evasion.
- The discrepancy between full year child card losses and associated citations as compared to the fare evasion study conducted late in 2019.
- The difference between evasion rates calculated from tap data on Presto machines as opposed to from in-person observations, and the time periods covered by each.
Changes are flagged in the body of this article for readers who have been here before.
The TTC’s Audit and Risk Management Committee met on February 11 to discuss three reports of which two dealt in detail with the problems of fare evasion and revenue loss.
Documents related to this are:
- Audit, Risk and Compliance: Fare Evasion Study (2019)
- Presentation : 2019 Fare Evasion Study
- The TTC’s Revenue Protection Strategy
- Presentation : The TTC’s Revenue Protection Strategy
Among many areas covered by these reports was the problem of misuse of Presto cards set up for free travel by children by riders who were anything but.
Although this was flagged as a problem when the reports were published in advance of the meeting, the scale and potential revenue loss only came out in the staff presentation to the committee. To complicate the debate, there were two separate and different estimates of the scale of this problem.
The range of fare evasion losses with Child Presto cards ranges widely depending on how one does the calculation. The root of the problem is that there were only 10 million Child Presto taps in 2019.
In one version, a the TTC concludes that 89 per cent of child card taps are not by children. However, the small total number of taps limits the size of the potential revenue loss to about $12 million, well below the total projected losses of $70 million.
In the other version, the TTC claims that one third of all fare evasion is due to Child Presto abuse, but there were not enough child taps in 2019 to account for this level. It is possible that the level of abuse has been growing strongly and was much larger in late 2019 (when the study yielding the “one third” figure took place) than for the year overall.
Updated February 15, 2020:
The TTC confirmed that there are two separate calculations for Child Presto losses that cover two time periods and methodologies.
- The estimate of $12.4 million loss was based on estimating the number of rides that do not fit with a typical usage pattern one would expect for children, and it is calculated from all-year card usage and the system average fare of $2.25.
- Statistics for provincial offenses in court showed that about 13% of cases related to Child Presto abuse. This was based on the full year 2019.
- The 33.7% overall evasion rate for Child Presto use is based on a study in the final months of 2019. This implies a strong growth in the fraudulent use of Child Presto cards.