The Ontario government has announced “One Fare”, expected to save transit riders an average of $1,600 annually.
Set to launch on Feb. 26, riders will only pay one fare if they are transferring between the TTC and participating transit systems around Toronto, which includes GO Transit. The plan will create eight million new rides every year, according to a press release from the province.
“This One Fare program is a godsend,” said Mayor Olivia Chow at a press conference this morning at Downsview Park subway station. “Because it means that someone from Etobicoke can take the GO train via Long Branch or Mimico, come down to Union, jump on Line 1 and take [the] TTC.”
“Our government is on a mission to keep costs down for the hardworking people of Ontario,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford in the provincial government’s press release on the matter.
“This program will be a game-changer for transit riders.”
Chow said it will be more convenient and affordable, and has been in the works for two decades. Riders of GO Transit, Brampton Transit, Durham Region Transit, MiWay, and York Region Transit will benefit from this.
August Pantitlan Puranauth, Organizer at TTCRiders, a grassroots, volunteer, non-profit organization of Toronto transit riders, said the announcement is good news.
Puranauth, whose pronouns are they/them, used the example of traveling from Toronto to York Region, with passengers able to transfer for free to York Region within two hours of the last ride.
“Your TTC fare is what’s going count and you don’t have to pay the additional fare. So, it really breaks down boundaries in that case,” they said.
Puranauth said that with this new change, more people will ride the TTC, and they are hoping to see Ontario help more with TTC operation costs because more service will be needed to manage increased crowding due to this program making the TTC more popular.
This morning’s conference was also attended by Associate Minister of Transportation Vijay Thanigasalam. Thanigasalam explained how the reduced-fee transfers would work using the example of a Barrie, Ont. commuter.
“They pay for the Barrie transit fees and they get onto the GO. They will pay GO minus the Barrie fees they already paid. And let’s say they come to Downsview and take [the] TTC, they don’t pay TTC fares,” Thanigasalam said.
So, ultimately, they only end up paying part of the GO Transit fare.
Although TTCRiders has advocated for free transfers between the TTC and other networks for some time, Puranauth said there should also be a single flat fare for the TTC and GO Transit, allowing for free transfers between the two systems.
“Because even with the proposed changes happening at the end of this month, you’ll still be paying a GO fare, which can be higher than the TTC fare,” they said.
Thanigasalam said the Ontario government is fully funding the One Fare program, investing $67 million in the next two years to kickstart it.
“Affordability is a number one issue at the moment,” he said.
Thanigasalam said the government wants to put money back into people’s pockets. He also announced further improvements, including billions of dollars worth of investments, to public transit in and around Toronto.
“Since day one, Premier Ford and our government have been focused on building public transit, better public transit systems, for the people of Ontario,” Thanigasalam said.
Ford said his two transportation ministers are doing a great job of leading the largest expansion of public transit in North America, with the province investing $70 billion in new subways and the expansion of the GO Transit network.
By 2031, there will be all-day GO service, every 15 minutes, in certain parts of the Golden Horseshoe to provide improved transit to connect residents with each other and their jobs.
Thanigasalam mentioned the collaboration between the city and the province.
“Our government, under the leadership of Premier Ford, we are committed to stand [standing] with public transit riders, to make public transit affordable. Like [the] Premier said, with the working relationship with Mayor Chow and other municipalities, I am confident this is going to be a successful One Fare program moving forward in the long-term,” he said.
“When the Ontario government and the municipal government work together, we can make life more affordable,” Chow said. “So, thank you, premier,”
But Puranauth said TTCRiders would like to see more federal support, which they said is direly needed.
“We want to see permanent support from upper levels of government, including the federal government to pay to actually run the buses and streetcars and subways in our city,” they said.