News, Politics

21,000 Free Metropasses

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TTC Bus
Image: Wikimedia Commons, Adam E. Moreira

Should these people have to pay to ride the bus?

Recently, Toronto Mayoral candidate Rob Ford complained that more than 21,000 people in Toronto receive free TTC Metropasses. He said this was a case of wasted money and that these people should have to pay for their own bus and subway tickets.

At first, this number sounds shocking. It seems terribly unfair that more than 21,000 people in Toronto get to ride the buses and subway for free when the rest of us have to pay. But wait—looking at the individual numbers, we can see that there may be some grey areas.

Thirteen thousand (more than half) of those free Metropasses are given to TTC workers who fix and maintain the subway, streetcars and buses. Drivers use them to get to the appropriate stations to start and end their shifts. Without the free Metropasses, the TTC would have to pay for these people to take the TTC anyway.

Another 4,700 Metropasses are given to TTC retirees who have worked more than 10 years for the company. It’s in their contract when they began working for the TTC that they would get this benefit. If the TTC didn’t give them these passes, they would be sued.

Next, 3,700 passes are given to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) to give to its clients who are sight-impaired.

Eighteen Metropasses are given to war amputees—people who have lost limbs during wartime, fighting for Canada.

And 45 are given to the Mayor and City Councillors of Toronto. Those passes are in their contract as part of their pay.

There are some other passes given out to similar workers and employees of the TTC as well as a group that investigates the safety of the TTC and advises the Mayor about accessibility issues for physically challenged riders.

So while at first sight 21,000 free Metropasses seems like a waste of money… is it, really?

This article was based on an editorial by Carol Goar in the Toronto Star. Here is a link to her editorial, which has more information about the free passes.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Do you think the author of this article agrees with Councillor Ford, why or why not?

Reading Prompt
Is Councillor Ford treating Torontonians fairly by making everyone pay for the bus and subway? Or, is he treating many Torontonians unfairly by taking away important access to buses and subways for the people who need it most?

Primary
Express personal opinions about ideas presented in texts (e.g., identify traits they admire in the characters; comment on actions taken by characters) (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Junior
Make judgments and draw conclusions about ideas in texts and cite stated or implied evidence from the text to support their views (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Grammar Feature: Long Dash
The long dash (or “em-dash”): Highlight the use of the long dash throughout the story.

“But wait—looking at the individual numbers, we can see that there may be some grey areas.”

“Eighteen Metropasses are given to war amputees—people who have lost limbs during wartime, fighting for Canada.”