Metrolinx has paid GO Transit riders $3.8 million in refunds over the past three years because of trains that were more than 15 minutes late.
The service guarantee policy came into effect in 2013 after Metrolinx created a customer charter for GO Transit riders, which included a promise to customers that they would do their best to be on time.
"We made a commitment in writing and had a system developed, in which we could actually reimburse people for delays that are within our control like track switch problems, maintenance issues, construction delays," said Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins.
Police investigations and weather not covered
The refund, however, does not cover every delay.
"Trespassers, police investigations, catastrophic winters or weather events, that sort of thing — when they are completely outside of our control, then they don't qualify for our service guarantee," Aikins added.
According to Metrolinx, 94 per cent of GO trains delivered riders to their destinations within five minutes. The UP Express delivers riders on time 98 per cent of the time because it does not share train corridors.
Metrolinx said that refunds to customers last year were down compared to 2015. Due to the severe winter weather that caused delays in 2015, the pay out to customers that year was $1.7 million. Aikins said Metrolinx learned a lot from that winter, and last year's pay out was $1.2 million.
Though Metrolinx has paid out nearly $4 million over three years, Aikins stresses that it's only a small percentage of the agency's $600 million fare revenue.
'$4 million is a lot for train rebates'
Michael Harris, MPP for Kitchener-Conestoga, said he supports the refund in place but the delays are unacceptable.
"Four million dollars is a lot for late train rebates but at the end of the day, we don't have to pay the rebate if the train isn't late."
Harris also said, "GO train riders pay for their trains to be on time, plain and simple. GO Transit is costing us all — passengers, employees, frankly the people of Ontario who have to pick up the million dollar tax for the next free ride."
Metrolinx said it is working to decrease the delays it can control. The transit agency is investing $52 million a year into the system to replace new signals, build new tracks, and buy new buses and trains.