GO Transit To Raise and Standardize Fares (Updated)

Updated February 22 at 4:00 pm

As expected, the Metrolinx Board approved the proposed increase in GO Transit fares at its recent meeting.  The contrast with the debates about TTC budgets and fares was quite striking.  The greatest potential for discord came with the presentation of an anti-increase petition.

The bottom line for this increase is “to ensure fiscal responsibility and meet the needs of a growing market of commuters” (presentation to the Board, page 2).  That’s shorthand for keeping the subsidy requirement under control, paying for the operations we have now and giving us some headroom to do more.

GO customers are, after all, from a very different market than the TTC.  Their median family income is $100k, they live well outside the core, and auto travel is already an established part of their lifestyle.  85% are fully employed, 9% are students and 1% are seniors.  They are travelling on GO overwhelmingly by choice and good service, in all aspects, matters.

40% of GO riders use monthly passes and another 40% use 10-trip tickets.  This is not unlike the TTC where the monthly pass accounts for over half of the adult trips, and a large majority of those remaining use token fares.

The purpose of the fare increase was to raise revenue by $14.6m in fiscal 2010.  Provincial subsidy will also jump for 2010 from $52.6m to $72.1m, but over half of this changes adjusts for one-time revenue in 2009/10 that allowed for a lower subsidy in that year.  GO’s total operating budget is $386.7m, and they expect to carry 56m rides.

By comparison, the TTC’s fare increase is project to raise somewhere between $36m and $50m depending on which figures you believe.  In 2010, the City will carry the entire $430m TTC subsidy while Queen’s Park spends its way through this budget cycle propping up Ontario’s economy.  The TTC’s proposed total operating budget is $1.37b, and they expect to carry 462m rides.

GO’s workforce, including contract staff, is 1,938.  The TTC’s proposed “conventional system” workforce for 2010 (as discussed in another thread), excluding contractors, is 10,491.  This number omits Wheel Trans, Capital Projects and Toronto Coach Terminal.

The TTC’s budget is only 3.5 times GO’s, but there are far more staff (5.4:1) and riders (8.2:1).  The subsidy per rider on GO is $1.29.  On the TTC it is about $0.93.

Earlier, I mentioned the potential for discord at the Metrolinx meeting.  The protocols for these meetings accept the public’s presence only grudgingly, unlike meetings for municipal agencies such as the TTC where in camera discussions are allowed on only a handful of grounds.  There are no deputations at Metrolinx, unlike the City of Toronto where a long history of public involvement would be impossible to silence.

The Directors, with few exceptions, ask no questions in the public session, and everything has clearly been worked out beforehand.  They’re just one big happy family.

Alas, thanks to an email slip-up, Metrolinx’ attitude slipped into view.  An internal email from Rob Prichard, Metrolinx CEO, was cc:ed to the petion’s originator in error.  From this, the clear intent was to give the petition as little exposure at the meeting as possible and assume that the Board would ignore it.  They did.

The original article from February 12 follows the break.

The Metrolinx Board will consider a GO Transit fare increase proposal at its February 19 meeting.  This increase is proposed to take effect on March 20, 2010.

The fare increase would, generally speaking, involve an across the board 25-cent increase in all single ticket fares.  There would be a “top up” fare of up to $3 for the Niagara Falls excursion service.  It is unclear what would happen to this once rail service to Niagara Falls becomes part of the standard schedule.

The proposal will also standardize the relationship of the various discount fares to the single ticket rates.

  • 10-ride tickets will cost 9.25 single fares for adults, 8.5 single fares for students
  • monthly passes will cost 33 single fares for adults, 26 single fares for students

The fare bylaw also includes provisions for various special cases such as group rates as well as for ticket refunds.  The contrast with the TTC, where management invents new rules with every fare increase, is quite striking.

46 thoughts on “GO Transit To Raise and Standardize Fares (Updated)

  1. When I see “median household income”, it makes me think that the household income of students (who make up a large portion of GO’s ridership) is a reflection on their parents, not the actual students. To me, the best measure of “richness” would be disposible income of actual riders.

    I agree with Emily that GO’s accessability for those we less than perfect vision is dire. Large print schedules, decent (non-braille) signage, high contrast edgeing for steps and decent station announcments would all be very cheap to implement and deliver real beneftis for all users from day one. Tactile pavement, braille signage, better info screens and accessible ticket machines should follow ASAP.

    GO have an accessability strategy, but this seems aimed at wheelchair users to the exclusion of all other accessability requirements.


  2. When you compare 2009 to 2010 for student fares, the increase is much higher than the adult ticket increases.

    For instance a student travelling to York U/Sheridan/Union from the following would experience the respective increase of: Aurora – 6.5%/10.9%/8.6%; Brampton 8.1%/8.7%/7.8%, Milton – 9.4%/7.4%/9.7%; Square One – 6.5%/5.8%/5.6%.

    The student 10 rides passes are pretty much going up by 6.5% across the board.

    Steve: This implies that the existing student passes are discounted more today than in the new standard fare structure.


  3. Robert, sorry for being obtuse. != is programming-speak (not just “elitespeak” or, prosaically, 1337). I suppose mathematics people would expect /= or ≠, or, I guess, words. 😉 I only rarely use factorials now… Steve probably read it as intended to it due to his IT background.

    Steve was not the initiate of the word average in this thread, he was merely following Michael’s post, and I was only trying to point out that you can’t compare across datasets using one descriptor for one and another for the other set. And I agree with you, Robert, that median is the best indicator for these sorts of studies, for exactly the reasons you state (outliers).

    Speaking of which, where the heck can you get this sort of data for free? Statscan seems to want to charge for household income tables, and my google searches come up with widely disparate values for the same time period, using apparently the same Statscan source (York Region – is it $80k median or is it $100+k for 2006? Depends on whether you use Elections Canada-sourced pages or Richmond Hill official marketing bumf)

    I was hoping to find a comparison between GO ridership and general population for their Durham/York/Simcoe/Peel/Halton, but I had to give up in frustration while trying to establish a baseline for the regions.

    (Similarly, the “median” for Toronto varies from 50k to 80k depending on source)

    Anyway, it seems to me that these numbers should be used cautiously unless the source can be verified.


  4. PSC says:
    February 25, 2010 at 9:44 am

    “Speaking of which, where the heck can you get this sort of data for free? Statscan seems to want to charge for household income tables, and my google searches come up with widely disparate values for the same time period, using apparently the same Statscan source (York Region – is it $80k median or is it $100+k for 2006? Depends on whether you use Elections Canada-sourced pages or Richmond Hill official marketing bumf)”

    I found a link on Jarrett’s “Human Transit” web site in an article about growth in transit ridership for various US cities. It had a comparison to Vancouver, Edmonton and some other Canadian cities. It led into some stats can data but I have not gone into it enough to see how far it goes. I will check some time this weekend.


  5. “Starting March 20, GO Transit fares will increase to allow us to meet the needs of our growing ridership.”

    This is what is quoted on GO Transit’s web site. So if ridership was dropping would that mean the lowering of fares ?


  6. I believe GO also boasted that their Nia. Falls excursion trains averaged circa 460 passengers per trip last season. But they ran 10 car trains which had a capacity of 1600 passengers. I was wondering where the efficiencies are in running a 10 car train versus a 5 car one which more than satisfies demand or do we have a situation where they don’t want to break down a trainset into a smaller consist (which would lead to greater fuel savings)????. Maybe no one is home at Willowbrook on the weekends to switch consists around.

    Thanks to GO’s poaching an already good Coach Canada daily Niagara service, the bus company used it as justification to drop Hamilton – Guelph service citing a profitable route like Niagara for them subsidized money losers like Hamilton-Guelph.
    Until off peak fairs are available, especially on the weekend, folks in the outer 905 going to downtown Toronto events will continue to drive if more than two people are travelling together. The current group pass is a sham.


Comments are closed.