Older kids will need photo ID as well to ride for free on the post-token TTC, possibly as early as this fall.
The TTC board has endorsed a policy that would require kids as young as 6 to carry Presto cards.
At a meeting Monday, TTC commissioners voted to approve a slew of new measures that will affect the agency’s youngest riders and are aimed in part at preventing fare evasion.
Among them are requirements for children aged 10 to 12 to have TTC-issued photo IDs on their Presto fare cards to ride for free, and for children aged 13 to 19 to have TTC photo ID to be eligible for the youth fare discount. Children 6 to 9 would have to have their own Presto cards to ride the TTC for free, but the cards wouldn’t feature photo ID.
The changes are expected to come into effect sometime next year, possibly in the fall to coincide with the start of the school year.
Since March 2015, children 12 and younger have been able to ride without paying. The program has been successful in increasing ridership among youngsters; the TTC expects to rack up 20 million rides by passengers under 13 this year, up from 12 million last year.
But it’s difficult to verify who is eligible because under existing rules, passengers 15 and younger don’t need IDs. TTC staff believe many high school students have been posing as 12-year-olds to get a free ride, and assert that requiring 10-to 12-year-olds to have photo IDs would help weed out fare cheats.
Children 6 to 9 will have to have Presto cards because the TTC plans to phase out all tokens, tickets and passes by the end of 2017 and implement Presto instead. Fare collectors at subway stations will be replaced with automatic fare gates that only a Presto card will open, no matter the passenger’s age.
The commission assumes kids under 6 are small enough to go through the fare gates with an adult.
Councillor Joe Mihevc (Ward 21, St. Paul’s), who sits on the board, called the new fare measures “reasonable.”
“There has been frankly too many teenagers taking advantage of this system. Some controls are necessary,” he said. He added that requiring younger kids to have Presto cards is “good training for them.”
TTC chair Josh Colle (Ward 15, Eglinton-Lawrence), who has three sons under 13, admitted kids might be prone lose the cards, but said that since it’s unlikely they would be travelling alone, a parent could hold onto the passes for them. “I know I would,” he said.
Colle added that he’s hoping for more clarity on how the photo IDs will be distributed to young riders, because he wants to avoid “a bureaucratic mess.” TTC staff say the cards would be distributed through schools. They estimate passengers would be charged a fee of $5 to $7 for the photo ID, which would appear on their Presto cards. The fare cards themselves cost $6.