Toronto

Metrolinx weighing options on streamlining GTHA transit services

Metrolinx is trying to find a better way to integrate fares and services for commuters who use more than one transit system.

Province studying ways to seamlessly transfer across public systems

One of the options being considered by Metrolinx is charging commuters fares based on distance travelled. (CBC)

Metrolinx is trying to find a better way to integrate fares and services for commuters who use more than one transit system.

On Wednesday, officials from Metrolinx and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) held a meeting to go over plans for fare integration. The meeting was the first of its kind and despite the fact that no concrete decisions were made, some backroom details have been released. 

It doesn't make sense that people travelling short distances should have to subsidise those travelling longer.- Trevor Guy, Toronto transit commuter

The provincial transit agency says the goal is to create a system where commuters can transfer between systems in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) without fumbling through their pockets to pay more.

"We've been studying it and looking at other jurisdictions," said Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins.

One of the options being considered by Metrolinx is charging commuters fares based on distance travelled, which seems prudent to transit commuters such as Trevor Guy.

"It doesn't make sense that people travelling short distances should have to subsidise those travelling longer," he said.
Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins says the transit agency has been studying ways to streamline services. (CBC)

Concerns about high costs

However, others are not so keen on the idea of bringing in geographic zones to determine transit pricing. 

"That is going to cost more," Sarbjit Thindy said of commuters who have to travel long distances. "It's going to be expensive for those customers."

Wendy King told CBC News she likes the idea of streamlining services, but worries some commuters may stop using transit if costs catapult higher than current levels.

"I'm sure some commuters may fall off," she said. "Right now, for me, it's lucrative based on the amount the trips that I take, but I may have to revisit if that's the case." 

Another option would see different rates for different modes of transit, whether it be by train, streetcar, subway or bus.
Wendy King commutes from Brampton and says she worries some commuters may stop taking public transit if costs get too high. (CBC)

No comparables to GTHA

Some critics say firm details are needed to better understand what is being discussed. 

"These ideas of fare by distance, and extra fares to ride the subway, for example, are now out here and they're making people very nervous," said Suhail Barot of TTCriders, a non-profit group that serves as a voice for Toronto transit riders.

Under the current system, commuters who come to Toronto from outside of the city have to pay fares toward more than one transit system. Metrolinx hopes by streamlining services, many more trips can be taken each year by residents who no longer have to pay for transit multiple times per day. 

While travel zones and fare integration are common place in many big cities, Aikins says things are a little bit different in the Golden Horseshoe region. 

"An interesting thing that we found out in our studies — there isn't an actual jurisdiction like the GTHA that's comparable around the world," she said. 

Metrolinx says their final plan will not look like a plan used anywhere else in the world. More public meetings are planned for this summer before the final plan is unveiled in the fall. 

With files from Nick Boisvert

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