Toronto

NDP, students call on Ford government to save program that cuts fares on TTC, GO Transit

The Ontario NDP is pushing the Ford government to save a program that discounts fares for commuters who switch between the TTC and GO Transit. The Discount Double Fare program is slated to come to an end on March 31.

Double Fare Discount program scheduled to end March 31

By the end of March 2020, residents of the GTA will not be able to use the discount double fare program when using the TTC and GO Transit. (J.P. Moczulski/ Canadian Press)

The Ontario NDP is pushing the Ford government to save a program that discounts fares for commuters who switch between the TTC and GO Transit.

The Discount Double Fare program, which gives riders who transfer between the two transit systems a discount of $1.50 for each single trip when they use their Presto cards, is slated to come to an end on March 31.

Monday at Queen's Park, NDP transit critic Jessica Bell told CBC Toronto that she would introduce a motion calling on the PC government to keep funding the subsidy, which saves some commuters more than $700 a year.

Cutting funds for this program means that "people will drive instead," the MPP for University-Rosedale said.

"It means [they] will be contributing to the congestion crisis we have in our region and it means a lot of people will be paying more when they are struggling to make ends meet," she added.

Back in July 2019, the Progressive Conservative government said the subsidy, which was the result of an agreement between the TTC, Metrolinx and the previous Liberal government, will no longer be funded past the expiration date.  

Students hard hit by funding cut

Dhouha Triki, the vice-president of campaigns at the York University Graduate Students' Association. (Wasim Zaitoun)

Dhouha Triki, with York University's Graduate Students' Association, said "it's outrageous" to cancel the program. 

"A lot of commuters that come to York University are working families; a lot of them work in the service sector trying to pay their tuition and their transit fees," she told CBC Toronto.

Sarah Westerhof, a member of the equity campaign committee for the York University Students' Association, said students now will have to cope with higher transit expenses along with cuts to their student loans.

"The students who are aware are angry and I think it's going to come as a shock to many students," said Westerhof.

"This government is forcing 50,000 GO riders to pay $720 a year starting March 31st," Bell, the NDP transit critic, said Monday in the Legislature.

The Discount Double Fare program saves some commuters who transfer between GO Transit and the TTC more than $700 a year. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

She asked if the premier would "stop making life more unaffordable for people and reverse these transit cuts?"

The PC government said during Monday's question period that they have no plans to extend the program, blaming the previous Liberal government its demise.

"Our ministry is aware that the contract is nearing its end on March 31, and that's thanks to the Kathleen Wynne and Del Duca government that did not budget appropriately to keep this program going," said MPP Kinga Surma, the associate transportation minister, in the Legislature. 

Surma did say her government has asked the TTC and Metrolinx to come up with possible alternatives and said those recommendations have already handed to the minister of transportation, but didn't give any details.

But Stuart Green, the senior communications specialist for the TTC, told CBC Toronto that they have not submitted any recommendations to the government yet.

However, they are in "ongoing discussions with Metrolinx about broader fare integration strategies and other opportunities as we develop our 5-Year Fare Policy and 10-Year Collection Strategy," Green said in an emailed statement.

About the Author

Wasim has a B.A. in English Literature and a Master in Business Administration. He was in business for 16 years before pursuing his passion in journalism by getting his degree at Seneca College. Wasim has a passion for politics, arts and everything else that's part of the great city of Toronto.

With files from Nick Boisvert

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