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.


Kaeleigh Phillips is Women's Post sustainability coordinator. She specializes in writing about issues relating to the environment, including renewable energy, cycling, and vegan recipes!

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