The Fair Fare Coalition , the Greater Toronto Worker’s Assembly Free and Accessible Transit and DAMN 2025 call on our City to take a Lead in creating a
Public Transit System that is Accessible for Everyone – Lets Start with Free Travel on Heat and Smog Alert Days
We are concerned about the impact that the high cost of riding the TTC has on the physical health and economic, mental and emotional well-being of people trying to get to medical appointments, job interviews, school or training programs, family or community events, food banks, etc.
Toronto claims to be a world class city and yet it is one of the few major Canadian cities that does not offer a low cost travel solution for our most low income residents. We are asking for a subsidized transit pass for all low income residents of Toronto.
In addition, as an immediate measure we recommend free travel in the City on smog and heat alert days. This will actually save lives! This summer will be marked by dangerously hot, humid, polluted days. During Extreme Heat Alerts, the City of Toronto counsels people to seek shelter and opens cooling centres across the City. People who are living on a low or fixed income are particularly at risk of ill health and even death during these alerts – especially senior citizens, people living with chronic illnesses and disabilities, people living in substandard housing and those people who are homeless, because they are more exposed to the heat and have fewer options for escaping it. Public transit makes it possible to travel to cooling centres or other places where temperature is regulated and stay safe during alert days.But without the financial means to travel, many people will have no way to escape the heat and smog.
In North America, heat kills more people than all other weather-related calamities (i.e. lightening, earthquakes, tsunamis, extreme cold, hurricanes etc) combined. In Toronto alone, extreme heat is responsible for 120 deaths annually, compared to 105 from extreme cold. Yet, the majority of heat-related deaths and illness are preventable.
The reality of growing urbanization, a changing climate and an increasingly elderly population mean that Toronto faces high heat-related risk trends.(From Heat Registry Manual – funded by City of Toronto, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration and Public Health Dept.)
We call on City of Toronto Public Health, City Council and the Toronto Transit Commission to make public transit free on heat and smog alert days. People can ride for free on New Year’s eve and morning. Lives can also be saved during these extreme weather alerts.
We believe that the City of Toronto can lead the way to accessible transit. We are one of the only large cities in the country that does not have a subsidized travel pass, nor do we make meaningful accommodations to ensure everyone can travel.
Examples of other jurisdictions who have implemented a subsidized pass:
Hamilton – Affordable Transit Pass Program is to help City of Hamilton residents who are living on a low income purchase an adult month bus pass for half the price
Calgary -Low Income Transit Pass Program offers a monthly pass to people living on a low income at a fixed rate of $40.00 (less than half the regular price of $90)
Ottawa–Reduced Transit Pass for people on fixed income (Ontario Disability Support Program or ODSP) – less than half the cost of a regular priced pass (reg. $84.00, reduced to $30.40)
Oshawa/Duram– Reduced Transit Pass for people on fixed income (ODSP) – less than half the cost of a regular priced pass (reg. $97.00, reduced to $39)
Vancouver – Reduced Transit Pass for people on fixed income (Disability Allowance) – less than half of a regular priced pass (reg. $99, reduced to $45)
Kingston –Affordable transit pass for everyone living on a low income – Discount established using the Low Income Cut-Off by Statistics Canada (reg. $65, reduced to $44)
North Bay – Reduced transit pass for Senior Citizens and people on ODSP. Also free travel for CNIB service recipients (reg. $80, reduced to $55)