Meeting Date: April 18, 2007

Subject: Staff Response to Commission Inquiry - TTC Student Discount Card
 
At the Commission Meeting of March 21, 2007, staff was requested to respond to two motions regarding the TTC Student Discount Card:
 
a) Assess the feasibility of eliminating the policy of not conducting field visits at schools for the purpose of taking photographs that have less than 50 participants; and
b) Estimate the financial and operational implications if the TTC Student Discount Card was not a mandatory program.

Discussion

The TTC introduced the TTC Student Discount Card for students aged 13 to 19 in the fall of 1977, and has had photo identification card requirements for concession fares since that point in time. The program elements and statistics were described in detail in the Staff Response that was submitted at the March 21, 2007 Commission Meeting as Agenda Item 10a).

The school visitation program which is conducted annually each fall for the purpose of taking TTC Student Discount Card photos has been in place for 30 years. In order to maximize the operating efficiencies of this very large program as well as to minimize the costs of the card to the students, an operating policy has evolved whereby field visits for the purpose of taking photographs are not conducted at schools where there are less than 50 participants. All schools are contacted during the preceding summer to determine if the institution will have sufficient students to meet the minimum volume.

At the present time, there are approximately 375 schools that are sufficient in size to warrant field visits on an annual basis.  For schools with less than the minimum requirement of 50 students for field visits, the institutions have two alternatives:

a) Schools can “team” with another larger institution in their area with the TTC co-ordinating the logistics for the field visit. Approximately 70 schools use this option.

b) Schools are provided application forms which are given to the students who are requested to travel to the Sherbourne Photo Facility for processing. Approximately 170 schools have chosen this option. This process has worked without issue for numerous years, and the TTC has not received any complaints from schools that send their students to Sherbourne requesting to have their own visitation date.

The contractor for the TTC Student Discount Card program has indicated in preliminary discussions, that expansion of the program to include schools with less than 50 participants would have a significant financial impact. The cost of the card to the student would have to increase to at least $5.00 from the current price of $4.25 to recover the additional costs. This potential price increase will likely meet with strong opposition as the Toronto Youth Cabinet has already stated their displeasure with the existing price.

In terms of the TTC Student Card not being a mandatory program, staff has estimated the following impacts:

a) Financial Impact - There will be a large increase in fare evasion and a significant financial loss to the TTC if the TTC Student Discount Card program is not mandatory. Based on the estimated population of 18 and 19 year olds who currently pay adult fares and potential fare evasion rates associated with elimination of the TTC Student Discount card, it is estimated that the fare revenue loss would be in the range of $8 million per annum from riders who “cheat” the system by paying student rather than adult fares. This estimate also includes the impact of 13 and 14 year olds who would engage in fare evasion after the card is no longer mandatory by paying child rather than student fares.

b) Operational Impact - With the current TTC Student Discount Card, operators and collectors only have to verify one standard piece of identification which minimizes boarding times and fare disputes. If the TTC Student Discount Card was no longer mandatory, this could require operators and collectors to verify the validity of up to 600 different school activity cards, which would drastically increase boarding times and increase the potential for operator assaults multi-fold. There is also the issue of confiscation of non-TTC issued identification which does not exist with the current TTC Student Discount Card.

Recommendation

The existing TTC Student Discount Card and program provides the TTC a very efficient mechanism to verify eligibility for a concession fare, and minimizes operational impacts and fare disputes. As such, staff makes the following recommendations:

• The TTC continues to issue the TTC Student Discount Cards using the current processes and the program remains mandatory;
• The proposed revisions to Corporate Policy 6.1.4 attached as Appendix A and originally submitted as Commission Report # 9, February 27, 2007, is approved; and
• The recommendations in this response are forwarded to the Toronto Youth Cabinet.

Interim Chief General Manager

3-16-16