Toronto Media Co-op

Local Independent News

More independent news:
Do you want free independent news delivered weekly? sign up now
Can you support independent journalists with $5? donate today!

Poverty activists use fake transfers to ride streetcars

by Mick Sweetman

Sarah Vance rides the Queen streetcar in protest of the high cost of transit compared to other cities. Photo: Linchpin / Mick Sweetman
Sarah Vance rides the Queen streetcar in protest of the high cost of transit compared to other cities. Photo: Linchpin / Mick Sweetman

TORONTO — At a streetcar stop at Queen and Bay streets Saturday about 50 anti-poverty activists boarded a westbound streetcar after showing the driver protest “transfers” made by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) in what they called a “pilot program” for fighting the fare hike.

Driver and passengers seemed in good spirits as protesters chanted “Hey, Hey, TTC! Public transit should be free!” Protestors distributed OCAP “transfers” to passengers and hung a banner out the window reading “Fair rates not fare hikes” as the streetcar headed toward Spadina Avenue.

The rolling protest was against the TTC increasing fares to $3 starting on Jan. 3. The price hike is 25 cents a trip and an increase of over 10% for a monthly pass. Advocates of poor and working people say transit costs are already too high. The fare hike comes at a time of economic recession and job losses, growing poverty, and dangerously low social assistance rates.

“We are going to hand out many tens of thousands of these transfers across the city so come the third people will try and use them. I would encourage everyone to do that,” said OCAP member Gaetan Heroux. “We also want to make a plea to the TTC drivers, when they see these transfers that they honour them in solidarity with poor people who can not afford to get on the TTC.”

Getting off the streetcar near John Street protesters crossed the street and waited a few minutes to catch an eastbound streetcar, but it speed past the stop.

OCAP organizer Liisa Schofield said, "Enough is enough - We need actual affordable transit, and we need an income that we can survive on! We are willing to fight for what we need."

As the next streetcar approached, protesters stood in the road blocking its path. The streetcar slowed gradually before stopping and allowing the protesters on.

One man identified only as Al said, “I know Toronto believes that they are against global warming, especially the government. But if you're going to charge people $3 there and $3 back I believe they're going to take more cars to work than they will take the TTC. They are not against global warming if they're going to hike up the TTC fares.”

Toronto transit riders cover almost 80% of the TTC’s operating costs making it one of the least-funded mass transit systems in North America. OCAP demanded that TTC be provincially and federally funded and made affordable and accessible to all.

Heroux asked, “Where are those politicians? Where are you on this issue? How dare you allow this to happen? You cowards.”

The rabble-rousers then rode the rocket to Yonge Street where they met a group of protesters who did not, or could not, join them on the inaccessible streetcars.

Griffin Epstein, an organizer with the disability-rights group DAMN 2025 (the name references a government target to make Ontario barrier-free by 2025) said she was, “Super glad people were able to get on public transit and I hope people will be able to do it more often in the future.”

This article was originally published on

Want more grassroots coverage?
Join the Media Co-op today.
Topics: Poverty

About the poster

Trusted by 1 other users.
Has posted 4 times.
View Mick Sweetman's profile »

Recent Posts:

Mick Sweetman (Mick Sweetman)
Member since December 2009


Mick Sweetman is a journalist in Toronto. His stories and photographs have been published in Alternet, the Calgary Strait, Canadian Dimension, Clamor, Industrial Worker, The Media Co-op, New Socialist, The Northeastern Anarchist, On the Prowl,, Strike!, They Call it Struggle for a Reason, Vox Magazine, and Znet

515 words

The site for the Toronto local of The Media Co-op has been archived and will no longer be updated. Please visit the main Media Co-op website to learn more about the organization.