A surprising announcement was made Thursday morning: children will ride for free on GO Transit buses and trains starting on March 9.

Eligible children are those aged 12 years and under, similar to the TTC’s free fare for children policy.

This follows a pilot project that GO Transit implemented on the Barrie Line last year, which saw ridership soar and the pilot extended to this year due to demand.

Instead of being seen as less fare, Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster suggests that fare revenue on GO Transit will rise by up to $9.3 million as more families take advantage of the program, especially over March Break and other holidays.

Under the new policy, children will not be required to carry a PRESTO card to access GO Transit services. Fare inspectors will use their judgement in determining the age of children riding on GO trains.

The Ministry of Transportation and Metrolinx have clarified that customers wishing to continue to take advantage of cheaper co-fares when transferring between GO Transit and other transit agencies (for example, the $0.80 Brampton Transit co-fare) will still need to use a PRESTO card.

Children using a PRESTO card with a fare concession on GO will tap on and off, but won’t be charged anything, similar to the TTC and UP Express.

The PRESTO Perks program which offers discounted admission to local attractions will also still require a children’s PRESTO card.