The Ontario Budget announced on March 23, 2023, includes a commitment, sort of, to reducing cross-border fares for trips into Toronto.
And we are making transit more affordable by eliminating double fares for most local transit services in the Greater Golden Horseshoe when commuters also use GO Transit services. Our government is working to expand this initiative to support more people commuting into Toronto. [emphasis added]
Ontario Budget 2023, Minister’s Forward
In more detail, the main part of the budget states:
Making It Easier and More Affordable to Take Transit
As Ontario families continue to look at managing costs, the government is helping put more money in their pockets with affordable transit options. The government has made it more affordable, easier and more convenient for families and workers to travel across the Greater Golden Horseshoe by eliminating double fares for most local transit when using GO Transit services. This means that after riders pay their fare for a GO bus or train, they do not pay again when accessing most local transit services in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The government has also increased PRESTO discounts for youth and postsecondary students and continues to provide more riders with more options and convenient ways to pay.
This GO Transit co‐fare discount applies to the following transit systems: Durham Region Transit, Milton Transit, Grand River Transit, Guelph Transit, Oakville Transit, MiWay (Mississauga Transit), Brampton Transit, Hamilton Street Railway, Burlington Transit, Bradford West Gwillimbury Transit, York Region Transit and Barrie Transit. The government is working to expand this initiative to support more people using public transit to come into Toronto. [emphasis added]Ontario Budget 2023, p 77
Two examples are given of fare savings, but both of these refer to transfers between local transit systems outside of Toronto, not to the TTC.
In the legislature, the Minister of Finance said:
“We have eliminated double fares when taking GO Transit and local transit throughout much of the Greater Golden Horseshoe — and we are expanding this initiative to include Toronto, so a commuter coming into the city only pays on one fare per trip, saving them money each way.” [emphasis added]As quoted in the Toronto Star
The operative words here are “for most local transit services” with the emphasis on “most”.
Eliminating double fares for most local transit services in the Greater Golden Horseshoe when commuters also use GO Transit services. The government is working to expand this initiative to support more people using public transit come in to Toronto. [emphasis added]Budget Highlights backgrounder
It is unclear whether the added discounts will apply to all TTC fares including those for GO-TTC trips, or only to 905-416 cross-boundary trips, or even to any TTC leg of a journey. Notable by its absence is any reference to GO-TTC trips within Toronto.
This has all the makings of an announcement that is a lot less in practice than it appears on the surface. I have written to the Ministry of Transportation seeking clarification. Stay tuned for updates.
Remember that Doug Ford loathes the TTC, and the peasants who take public transit in general.
Until I see any mention of the TTC, I see this as a reannoucement of an existing program, as this came into effect (at least for the Hamilton Street Railway and Oakville Transit) in 2022. The previous $1.50 discount for GO/UPX-TTC connections was a good step that sadly was not made permanent. It’s a missed opportunity, as commutes from the far edges of the city really do make more sense on GO.
The main beneficiaries from a GO-TTC discount/free transfer aren’t so much City of Toronto riders, they’re 905 commuters, particularly students. Those thousands of passengers transferring from GO buses to the subway for two stops that used to be a direct ride to York University, as well as students coming off trains at Union and headed to U of T, Toronto Metropolitan, George Brown, or OCAD. Office workers and hospital workers up University Avenue would also benefit.
There’s also the 905-416 double fare that was not mentioned. That double fare is why Brampton Transit resumed direct bus service to York U’s campus last September. TRBOT has made a big deal about fare zones, but there’s a lot that can be done in the meantime.
In my opinion, this is the wrong solution. The right solution is to solve Toronto’s housing crisis so that people who work in Toronto can live in Toronto and are not wasting their life commuting.
For me, the most annoying part of commuting to/from Toronto was not having to pay an extra fare. The most annoying part was having over two hours every day ripped out of my life that I was not spending with my family. Compared to that, the extra fare was meaningless.
I guess we will soon see if this is serious!
Steve: My attempt to get info about this policy’s applicability to trips within Toronto brought only a superficial response quoting the budget (which I quoted in my query) from the Ministry of Transportation.
That said, a simple implementation of making local agencies whole to eliminate dual fares without massive change to the fare structure is vastly preferable to the complexity of adding a zone system to what we have now.
Good news. This is from from CTV News.
Steve: The good news is that the Ministry is doing this, but the bad news is that parts of a truly integrated regional fare, let alone money to pay for better service, is still missing.