The provincial government plans to announce discount travel for riders transferring between the two services.
Commuters who transfer between GO Transit and the TTC are about to get a $1.50 break on their fares, the Star has learned.
The provincial government has agreed to subsidize a co-fare agreement that will allow riders who use both agencies on a single trip to avoid paying two full-price fares.
Instead, adult passengers on GO Transit and the Union Pearson Express who transfer to the TTC will pay a half price TTC fare of $1.50.
Going the other way, riders switching from the TTC to GO Transit or the Union Pearson Express will be discounted $1.50 on their fares.
The discount will apply only to riders who pay using the Presto fare card.
A regular adult TTC ride using Presto costs $3. Fares on GO Transit and the Union Pearson Express vary depending on the distance travelled.
Premier Kathleen Wynne, Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca, and Toronto Mayor John Tory plan to announce the fare reduction on Friday morning.
Del Duca told the Star on Tuesday night that the change is “fantastic news for the tens of thousands of people across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area that transfer … for their daily commutes.”
Subsidizing the discount will cost the provincial treasury $18 million a year, and will affect 50,000 daily commuters who take the TTC and GO Transit or the UP Express.
For average commuters, it could mean a savings of $720 a year.
The change will be put in place to coincide with the opening of the Spadina subway extension to Vaughan, which will be the first TTC subway to cross municipal boundaries and will intersect with GO Transit service.
The extension is scheduled to open on December 17, and once it’s in operation more GO Transit users are expected to be hopping aboard the TTC as part of their daily commute.
The subsidy is consistent with Wynne’s plan to reduce gridlock by encouraging motorists to take public transit. At the same time, with an election set for June 7, 2018, it should be politically helpful to the governing Liberals, who hold most of the seats in the Greater Toronto Area.
Contacted about the arrangement, a spokesperson for Mayor John Tory said it’s “a step in the right direction” toward the SmartTrack project. Tory promised during the election campaign that under his SmartTrack plan, transit riders would be able to board at GO stations within Toronto at the same price as taking the TTC.
“This is the first step in fare integration, not the only step and not the end of the story, but a great beginning,” wrote Don Peat in an email.
“The TTC’s budget is protected and will not be negatively impacted. Ultimately, this agreement will mean if you ride a mix of the TTC, UP Express and GO to get around Toronto, transit will now be less expensive.”
Spokespeople for the TTC and Metrolinx, the provincial agency that operates GO Transit, declined to comment.
GO Transit already has co-fare agreements with all other local transit agencies in the 905, but until this week’s announcement it lacked one with the TTC, which is by far the biggest transit operator in the region.
Forcing riders who use both TTC and GO Transit to pay a double fare has been seen as a significant disincentive to more people taking public transit.
Metrolinx, which is also responsible for transportation planning in the GTHA, has initiated a study of fare integration, with the ultimate goal of standardizing fare structures of all the agencies in the region and allowing passengers a “seamless” transit trip across municipal boundaries.
A report presented to the agency’s board last month determined a new regionwide fare system would require changes to transit governance and funding models however, which are likely to be controversial and take years to implement.
The report recommended less contentious measures in the short-term as part of a “step-by-step approach” to reduce barriers to transit use across municipal boundaries.
They included creating a co-fare between the TTC and GO Transit, advice that the province appears to have followed.
Other proposed measures were discounts for trips between the TTC and 905 transit agencies, and adjustments to GO’s fare structure.