If you’ve been enjoying the cost benefits of using your Presto card to transfer from the GO Train to the TTC, you’re going to have to make up that extra cost per trip starting April 1. Metrolinx has announced that the Discounted Double Fare program will be ending on March 31, when the multi-year agreement between the Province of Ontario and GO Transit’s parent company expires.
“The program was funded by the Province up to $18.4 million annually and exceeded this allotted budget each year – by $2.6 million in 2018-2019 and is expected to do so by $6.7 million in 2019-2020,” said Anne Marie Aikins, the Senior Manager for Media Relations at Metrolinx in a statement. “Metrolinx has covered the $9.3 million shortfall since the launch of the program.”
DDF was part of the 2018 Ontario budget, which was the last one delivered by the previous Liberal government under Premier Kathleen Wynne. The program allows commuters to save $1.50 on TTC fares when they transfer from GO Transit or the Union-Pearson (UP) Express. According to Metrolinx, they’ve seen an increase in service by 33 per cent in the last two years, so the inference is that the program has gotten bigger than the original budget can accommodate.
“Fare hikes are not the way to encourage ridership. Forcing commuters to dig into their pockets for an extra $1.50 a trip is going to hurt the monthly bottom-line for already-squeezed working people,” said NDP MPP Jessica Bell said in a media release. Bell is the Official Opposition critic for Transit, and represents a downtown Toronto riding.
“No one should be charged two full fares for a single trip to work. But now, due to Doug Ford and the Conservatives’ funding priorities, the entire discount is scrapped. This is just another example of how Doug Ford is taking commutes from bad to worse,” Bell added.
Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner agreed with that assessment.
“It’s not fair that people must pay multiple fares for a single trip, and this was a common sense program to provide some relief,” Schreiner said in his own statement. “Ending this discount hurts people who must commute longer distances to the city because they cannot afford to live in Toronto.”
“This backwards thinking is making public transit less viable at a time when we should be expanding clean, affordable mass transit,” Schreiner added.
Metrolinx says that they will continue to work with the Ministry of Transportation and municipal partners to create more accessible and affordable transit in the weeks and months to come.
“Metrolinx will be bringing forward solutions in the near future to help our customers travel through the region using different methods of transit,” said Aikins.
This news comes a week after Metrolinx caused an uproar by floating the idea to expand paid parking at their terminal lots. “It is our priority to ensure transit costs remain affordable to our customer. Our study research continues to find the most effective strategies,” Aitkins said.