An earthquake is about to hit our fare system. How will it impact you? With the introduction of Presto into Toronto, Metrolinx is considering two very dangerous fare ideas:

  1. Fare by distance
  2. Premium fares for the subway and LRT.

We have written a letter to Toronto City Hall, Metrolinx, and the Wynne Government calling for a fare integration vision that helps riders, not hurts them. Organizations are welcome to sign on to our letter by June 15, which is when we’ll be sending it.  Fill in the form at the bottom of this page.  Or you can send your own letter before the June 28 meeting.  Letters must be mailed.

Bruce McQuaig Metrolinx
97 Front Street West
Toronto, ON
M5J 1E6

June 6, 2016

Cc: Kathleen Wynne, Ontario Premier
John Tory, Toronto Mayor
Councillor Josh Colle, TTC chair
Andy Byford, TTC CEO
Jennifer Keesmat, Chief Planner, City of Toronto

Re: Fare integration in Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA)

To whom it may concern,

We write to you with grave concern regarding the recent news of fare integration strategies being proposed by Metrolinx.  It appears that Metrolinx is moving towards a fare structure designed to increase revenue at the expense of transit users in the GTHA. While fare integration is a worthy goal, it should be treated as an opportunity to make transit more affordable and improve service for all users, rather than an opportunity to squeeze even more money from TTC passengers, who continue to be the least subsidized transit users in the developed world. It is not the venue to bring forth wholesale changes to fare structures and transit operations that more than half a billion riders depend on each year.

We ask that the Province of Ontario (and hence its agency Metrolinx) and the City of Toronto commit to the following principles with regards to any future integrated fare system:

Fair provincial funding for public transit for the region

No reform of transit within the GTHA can be done without acknowledging the inadequacy of transit funding by the Province of Ontario. The Province used to match Toronto’s contribution to the TTC but has stopped doing so; this amounts to a revenue loss of about $500M a year. Transit systems across the GTHA are struggling for every dollar and it is essential the Province increase funding to make up for any shortfalls from an integrated fare system.

No fare hikes or loss of service for any rider

Given that fare integration will likely lead to reduced fares for riders that cross a municipal boundary, the base farebox revenue for many transit systems will obviously be reduced. It would be grossly unfair to burden other transit riders with this cost, or to cover it by reducing service.

No fare-by-distance within local transit systems

Municipal transit systems are primarily subsidized through local property taxes. Any move to impose fare by distance schemes on any municipal transit systems would disadvantage outer regions of a city, such as Etobicoke, Scarborough, and North York, with respect to its core, and reduce the value of the transit system. Nobody chooses to travel long distances by transit for the sake of enjoyment. Rather the need to travel long distances by bus, from the inner suburbs, is highly correlated with poverty. It’s not fair to make low income riders with long commutes pay more for transit. Such schemes were last seen in the City of Toronto almost 50 years ago and should remain an object of solely historical curiosity.

Two hour fares, usable across municipal boundaries

Most municipal transit systems within the GTHA (for example Mississauga, Brampton, York region, Durham region, Oakville, Burlington and Hamilton) provide two hour fares to their customers, and accept each other’s transfers when a municipal boundary is crossed. An obvious, easy way to integrate municipal transit systems would be for Toronto to join this arrangement, and to provide its own customers with two hour fares. Such a move would increase the value of transit fares in Toronto and is likely to cost less than $12 million annually. Major cities such as New York City and Chicago also use such an arrangement. Finally, a major source of disputes between customers and operators on the TTC will be eliminated, greatly improving customer satisfaction.

Co-fares for transfers between the TTC and GO, funded by the Province of Ontario

Again, every other municipality except for Toronto has a co-fare arrangement with GO transit, wherein riders can transfer from municipal to regional transit (or vice-versa) for the payment of a very small co-fare. This is a successful arrangement, funded by the Province of Ontario, and should be extended to the TTC. There is no reason that transit riders within the City of Toronto should be discriminated against vis-à-vis other GTHA residents.

Faster transit shouldn’t cost more than slower transit on municipal transit

Within the City of Toronto, the transit system is designed, such that bus routes serve to feed riders into the subway system, which is the most economical way to move large numbers of passengers across the city. This allows the TTC to run a subway system that is capable of recovering its costs and be among the most efficient in the world. The same design is true of new bus rapid transit systems coming into service in Mississauga, and for York Region transit. It is foolish to drive transit users away from high-capacity, low-cost options such as the subway, and onto more expensive, lower capacity bus routes and is unlikely to succeed in raising revenue. It is also incompatible with a two hour fare, which we see as the best option to move forward.

A single, transferrable fare for all transit options within the 416

Toronto’s unified fare system is a key feature of our transit system and should not be sacrificed on the altar of fare integration. Rather, we have the opportunity to extend this arrangement to the GO system, where it travels through the City of Toronto, providing riders with relief from the current arrangement which is bursting at the seams. TTC fares on GO transit within the “416” would immediately create new arteries for the transit rider to use. It would allow for efficient use of GO trains that often run at low capacity at off-peak hours, traveling away from the City of Toronto during the morning or traveling into the City of Toronto during evenings. Finally, it would build a larger base of users to justify the Province’s large, upcoming investments in Regional Express Rail.

Given the above concerns, we believe it to be the responsibility of the Province of Ontario to prove to the public that fare integration will increase ridership and benefit low income riders. Any arrangement that fails to achieve those two goals is unfair, and also counter to the Province’s ambitious goals to combat climate change.

We look forward to your response,



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