It’s the last provincial budget for the Ontario Liberal Party and Premier Kathleen Wynne before the provincial election in June, and they are bringing out big spending promises, including a reduction of GO Transit and other fares.
In addition to previously announced provincial funding for Brampton Transit to match a federal and municipal contribution that could total $474 million, the latest budget serves as an announcement of the many ways the provincial budget will address increasing transit costs, especially short trips and those that cross the 905-416 border.
Any trips on GO Transit or the Union Pearson Express (UPX) within Toronto’s borders will cost $3. Trips under 10km will also cost only $3, and trips from certain GO stations (Port Credit, Malton, Pickering, Ajax, Markham) will be discounted if traveling to and from Union Station. Metrolinx is still establishing on how this will work in the context of the existing fare structure.
While it’s not obvious how Brampton residents could take advantage of GO Transit fare discounts, there have been suggestions of travelling into downtown Brampton via train without having to deal with finding parking or traffic (which could be great for when Four Corners is ripped up for water main work later this year), or an easy commute within the city to the employment lands at Bramalea and Steeles.
Lower GO fares are expected to result in the loss of $90 million in revenue over three years.
The second transit fare reduction initiative is a solution to the current 905-416 fare boundary problem. Currently, while 905 transit agencies accept each other’s transfers for free, the TTC requires those transferring from a 905 bus to a TTC bus or subway to pay a full TTC transit fare (and vice-versa) when crossing the border.
Using proceeds from carbon allowances, the province has proposed to subsidize a potential cheaper co-fare of up to $1.50 in savings per trip when transferring between the 416 and 905. This follows a similar $1.50 TTC fee when transferring to and from GO Transit and the UPX that started in January. This measure would cost the province $70 million over three years.
A provincial spokesperson has confirmed that these consumer savings will come into effect in 2019.