With a new year comes a new transit fare hike in Toronto. In four years that I’ve lived here, it’s almost a guarantee. And with each fare hike comes a new set of fare token sales combos. Last year, a $2.50 bulk-discounted token could be had in sets of 4 or 8 for $10 or $20, or if you like round numbers, you could get 5 or 10 tokens for $12.50 or $25.00. It made sense if you needed a week’s worth of tokens (10) or just wanted to turn a bill into tokens.
This year, fares rose by ten cents. Cash fare is now $3.10, meaning the discount fare for buying tokens in bulk is now $2.60. It’s not a nice round number. For some logic-defying reason, the TTC has chosen to sell them in groups of 3 ($7.80) and 7 ($18.20). Maybe they did this so that you can still buy combos with $10 or $20, although now you get change with your tokens, and TTC tokens are almost the same size as dimes. Or maybe the folks who came up with these combos are fans of Queens of the Stone Age.
Yesterday, I went to Main Street subway station to buy tokens. I had a $20 bill in my pocket and wanted to get as many tokens as I could. I asked the collector for 7, showing him my bill. He responded by pointing to a handwritten sign: “tokens, 5 for $13, 10 for $26.” Shrugging, I stuffed my $20 bill through the slot and said “this is all I’ve got.”
Down the dispenser came 5 tokens. As the collector handed me back a clean $7 in change, he proudly declared “this way I don’t have to carry nickels!”
This man might be smarter than the entire Toronto Transit Commission.