Toronto Police Officer Sparks Debate Over TTC Fare Evasion & People Think Fines Are Too High

“I feel like I’m owed a free ride.”

Police officer in subway.

Police officer in subway.

Getting caught on the TTC without paying your fair share could set you back hundreds of dollars.

A Toronto Police officer took to Twitter to share that after one hour of monitoring a TTC station, over 100 riders were turned away for not paying their fare, which for presto users is just $3.20.

"Do you know what part is frustrating? They have a valid Presto card or money to pay. They choose not to pay & argue with Police & TTC staff. Fair Evasion penalty of $425. Pay your ride as others do," tweeted out the cop.

Fare inspection was put on hold at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but in the fall of 2022, "full inspection and ticketing activities" were brought back with an emphasis on the downtown core.

So, the chances of being caught without paying your fare are higher, and not everyone is happy with the bill.

One Twitter user responded and pointed out the stark difference in fines for parking and transit.

"Not saying you aren’t raising valid points, but there is something breathtakingly wrong in a city when stealing a $4 transit fare costs $425 and stealing a $12 parking cost in a $60k vehicle nets you a $35 parking ticket," reads the tweet.

The police officer tweet was reposted into r/Toronto on Reddit, and another user pointed out the disparity between fair evasion fines on GO Transit and the TTC.

"This is funny. The TTC fine is $425 for fare evasion. GO Transit has a fine of $35, and it costs way more to ride the GO."

Metrolinx has a tiered system that increases each time you are caught evading fare from $35, $50, to $100, and if you're caught over four times, you're served a $200 Provincial Offence Notice.

Whereas on the TTC, it's a one-strike rule, and the first time you're caught, you could be coughing up to $425.

Some people even argued that they deserved a "free ride."

"How many times has the ttc f**ked up your ride? I’ve had to walk from bloor to queen the last five times I’ve taken the subway I feel like I’m owed a free ride," one user commented.

While others were glad that riders were being fined heavily.

"I understand if someone who's flat broke needs to get to a medical appointment or job interview and doesn't have two nickels to rub together – fine, that's a decent excuse. But people laughing that they evade fares because it gives them more money for fun stuff? They can get bent, I hope they all get the maximum penalty each and every single time, they're just smug freeloaders who cost the rest of us."

TTC representative Stuart Green previously told Narcity that customers who ride for free have a big impact on the system despite the majority of customers paying their fair.

"We know that 97 percent of our customers do just that, and we thank them. But evasion — which is a challenge for all transit agencies — is costing us tens of millions of dollars a year," said Green.

Brooke Houghton
Brooke Houghton is a contributing writer for Narcity Media based in Toronto, Ontario.