Why Are Transit Riders Who Jump Fares Treated So Much More Harshly Than Drivers Who Steal Parking Spaces?

CC BY 2.0. Toronto streetcar/ Lloyd Alter

It's time for some fareness.

In New York City, the fine for fare jumping (or as our editor found out, not having the right transfer even though she had a Metrocard) is $100. If you are a driver and don't put money in the meter, the fine is $65, though if you complain, you get an automatic reduction to $43. So stealing a subway fare is over twice the cost of stealing a parking space.

In Toronto, Canada, the fine for stealing a ride on transit without paying is $425, and the fine for stealing parking by not paying for it is $30, so stealing transit costs over 14 times as much as stealing parking. Many are complaining that it is really a class war. As transit activist Vincent Puhakka noted in Toronto.com:

It looks like discrimination when you realize that for a lot of people who can afford cars, $30 isn’t really a big issue, whereas hundreds of dollars for a student who rides the TTC is crippling.

In fact, statistics show that people who take transit earn about ten thousand dollars a year less than people who drive. As tweeters note, "TTC fines poor people, parking tickets are for rich folks," and, "Stop punishing the working class for being poor."

It doesn't help that Toronto has a terrible payment system that often doesn't work, so that if you go online to add money to your card and it doesn't show up right away, you are in trouble. "Now you can get a fine for trying to pay a machine that won't take your money and using a card that holds your money hostage for 24 hours," said one victim.

Fairness about how drivers are treated compared to pedestrians or cyclists is a big issue these days, especially as so many pedestrians are getting killed and nobody seems to be enforcing speed limits. The police don't set the price of parking tickets or tickets for going through red lights or blocking intersections, but they don't enforce them very much, either. They would rather go after cyclists.