Mayor John Tory recently made comments about publicly shaming fare evaders on a talk show but has since clarified he wasn’t serious.
“I was musing about things I had mentioned in the past because frankly I was very frustrated at the fact that some of our fellow citizens who are people that are able to pay are choose not to pay,” Tory said.
“I think the more likely course of action to be taken is to have a better deployment of fare inspectors. Perhaps we need more; perhaps we need to deploy them differently.”
The mayor clarified his earlier comments at a morning press conference about city modernization.
The TTC is facing a $61 million budgetary shortfall, and yesterday its board approved a 10 cent fare increase.
The TTC believes fare evasion happens on two to three per cent of total trips.
“Even a little problem is costing us 20 million dollars (a year),” said Coun. Joe Mihevc, who asked city staff to report on the scope of the problem. Mihevc said he favours a more measured approach to public shaming.
“Rather than shaming them, I would suggest a poster campaign that’s on all our buses or subway cars, that says, ‘do the right thing’,” he said.
Social media expert Tom Vassos says public shaming can work but sometimes the practice can have unintended consequences that the “shamer” did not want.
“Everything from potentially people losing their jobs, having to move to a different city, death threats, depression, right through to something like suicide,” Vassos said.
Many users of the TTC didn’t agree with publishing photos of those who try and cheat the system.
“It makes the person feel bad. Maybe they cannot pay, maybe they cannot afford to go inside,” said rider Iryna Kharlamenko.
TTC spokesperson Brad Ross says the TTC will be ramping up enforcement of fare compliance by issuing more fines instead of warnings to people who ride without paying.
“They risk a fine of up to $435,” Ross cautioned.