TTC wants to charge riders for text alerts

The Toronto Transit Commission (ON) wants to start charging customers for using its next-vehicle text-messaging system. TTC proposes to charge customers 15 cents per message when the system expands from streetcars to buses this fall. Under the proposal, the first two texts within a 24-hour period would be free; customers would only pay if they access the text-alert system three times or more within a 24-hour period. “It costs us money to send out these text messages, and there’s just no budget for it,” said spokesman Brad Ross. Between July 2010 and April 2011, TTC sent out 1.78 million text messages to customers at a cost of $105,000. TTC estimates that sending out 20 million messages next year could cost as much as $1.31 million; the texting fees would reduce annual agency costs to $140,000. Service updates will still be available on TTC’s website, and the commission provides data to third-party application developers under its open-data policy. If approved, the fee would take effect in September when the bus service updates are rolled out. Link to full story in The Toronto Star.

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