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Buses, buses, buses!

It’s always fantastic when people can work together for the greater good, especially when it involves top decision-makers  and a faster commute for transit users.

Today It was announced that the City of Toronto and the Federal Government are pooling resources and investing in public infrastructure –buses, new routes and cycling infrastructure – in Toronto. The funds will support efficient and affordable services. The total investment is $934 million. The Federal Government is providing over $442 million and the City of Toronto is  Matching and adding a bit more with an investment of $492 million.

The funds will ensure buses are maintained and will meet the demand of commuters. Improved accessibility and lower greenhouse gas emissions are an added perk.

Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi, Ontario Minister of Transportation Kathryn McGarry,  Mayor John Tory and Chair of the TTC, Councillor Josh Colle announced the purchase of 1,043 new buses and the revitalization of 695 current buses as a part of the TTC’s Bus Purchase and Bus Rebuild project. The fleet will include 729 clean diesel buses, 254 second generation hybrid electric buses, and 60 battery electric buses.

Funding was also announced for 15 new public transit projects across Ontario. $20 million will go towards new transportation routes and cycling infrastructure. Mayor John Tory spoke about the initiative:

“Every day, the lives and livelihoods of Toronto residents depend on being able to move around our city quickly, safely and reliably. Maintaining our existing bus fleet and adding more buses on our roads will bring transit into every neighbourhood of our city. There is no area where collaboration and cooperation is more essential than in keeping our residents moving. Together, we will make Toronto’s transit system faster, stronger, safer and more accessible to everyone in every part of our city.”

The project is much-needed in Toronto and across the GTA. The extra buses and repaired fleets will cut down those end-of-day wait times, and will lessen the number of breakdowns which add extra minutes, or even hours on transit routes.

Toronto and GTHA integrating fares for easier travel

Have you ever had to commute between the Toronto boundary lines and the GTHA and pay two full fares? The cost of transit quickly adds up and often prevents people from traveling by transit in the region.

Metrolinx and TTC came together for a joint meeting on Wednesday to discuss an integrated fare system to make public transportation more accessible in the region. The meeting will address the fare barrier at the Toronto-905 boundary and present three possible solutions to the issue. The current system is disjointed and can create confusion for some commuters. Having to purchase fares twice is inefficient and can slow down or prevent people from transiting around the GTHA.

The first option is called the Modified Status Quo  and would provide a common transfer rule across the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and the 905 regions. The transfer would be free or have a consistent price determined by the network. The TTC would remain the same, providing transit users with the same cost on the streetcars, buses, subway and LRT. The cost of regional services would be reduced to ensure that the cost principles were fair, but the fare would gradually increase with longer trips. This system would be the easiest to integrate because it wouldn’t involve a lot of changes for the TTC itself. The concern with the first option is that without zones, it is difficult to assess fair costs for various trips across the large GTHA region.

The second concept is based on Local and RT Zones. This option would develop an entirely new fare structure for the region and would add local and regional zones into fares. This regional network would have very specific pricing considering the distance of travel, and would only use one service provider for fare integration.

There would be three types of service under this option; Local transit, which includes streetcars and buses, Rapid Transit (RT), consisting of subways, SRT and LRT, and the Regional GO transit network.  Zones would be approximately seven kilometres and RT would share the same zone boundaries as local transit. Go Transit fares would increase with distance, but all the systems would have a free transfers. The downfall of the system is the expense of commuting from areas in Toronto that are far north to the downtown region. The TTC fare would increase substantially under this system. This option would arguably be a money-maker for TTC and Metrolinx.

The third option is a Hybrid, which is a popular option being used in Amsterdam and Melbourne. This system also uses zones and divides the three types of transit into Local, RT, and Regional. The difference in this approach is that the fare structure is not strictly divided between the local and RT systems. Instead, distance would be the facilitator of differing costs. The cost would be the same on short-distance local and RT trips within the city limits and would increase as the distance grows. The transfers would be free within a set time period as well.

The Hybrid option combines the fare integration system into a united whole and still uses the organized zone structure. It also attempts to lower costs of local trips in the city.

Consultations with the public and the city will occur in May and June.