Ontario launches One Fare transit program

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Transit riders in the GTA and those who use GO transit will only pay once when transferring between services, starting Feb. 26

On Feb. 26, the Ontario government’s new One Fare program will come into effect. Under the new program, transit riders of transit agencies in in the GTA will be able to transfer for free between services. 

The One Fare program is one of many transit developments the Ontario government is pushing forward as part of the Greater Golden Horseshoe Transportation Plan. The Greater Golden Horseshoe refers to a large and densely populated portion of southern Ontario ranging from Peterborough to the Niagara Region, surrounding Lake Ontario.

The program is currently set to include the Toronto Transit Commission, GO Transit, York Region Transit, Durham Region Transit, Missisauga’s transit system and Brampton Transit.

Free transfers involving local transit agencies will be valid for a period of two hours after the first trip begins. In this case, the second component of the trip becomes free of cost.

Transfers from GO Transit to another participating transit service will be valid for three hours. In this case, only the local transit component of the trip is covered. 

Riders transferring between services will automatically receive their discount when they use the same PRESTO, credit or debit card to tap on and off of different services. 

The program will see Metrolinx reimburse local transit agencies to account for their lost revenue. According to Associate Minister of Transportation Vijay Thanigasalam, the program will cost the province about $117 million each year. 

In light of this cost, the government hopes that the improved service will attract more people to make use of public transit to move across the GTA. Premier Doug Ford also stated at a press conference on Feb. 5 at Downsview Park Go station that the program will save regular transit users as much as $1,600 annually. 

Depending on the success of the current program, the government is considering expanding the One-Fare program to include more local transit agencies across the province.

“Our goal is to go to the next phase, to talk to and have dialogue with other municipalities beyond the GTA corridor so that we can bring the one-fare program into other regions,” stated Thanigasalam at the Downsview Park Go station.

Our goal is to go to the next phase, to talk to and have dialogue with other municipalities beyond the GTA corridor so that we can bring the one-fare program into other regions

Vijay Thanigasalam, associate minister of transportation, Government of Ontario

Many McMaster University students who commute from participating areas and use local transit services to get to the GO bus will also benefit from the program. According to the most recent numbers from McMaster, there are about 3,000 GO bus rides each week Monday to Thursday and about 4,500 every Friday. Students who commute to a GO Bus stop with a local transit agency in the GTA will save the cost of the local transit component of the trip.

Other developments soon to be under works are the construction of new and expansion of existing subway lines in the GTA. The plan also includes having two-way, all-day GO train service every 15 minutes between major cities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe by 2031. 

More information about the One Fare program can be found on Metrolinx’s website

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