Toronto

New regional transit fare system should charge by distance, Mayor John Tory says

When it comes to taking public transit in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, the farther you ride the more you should pay, Mayor John Tory said Tuesday.

Tory comments the same day Metrolinx looks at options for an integrated regional fare system

Toronto Mayor John Tory spoke in favour Tuesday of a fare system that requires regional transit commuters to pay more the farther they ride. He expressed that opinion on the same day the Metrolinx board heard several options for a more integrated fare system. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

When it comes to taking public transit in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, the farther you ride the more you should pay, Mayor John Tory said Tuesday.

Tory made the comments on the same day the board of the regional transit agency, Metrolinx, was looking at options for a new, more integrated fare structure that would help pay for the expansion of public transt in the GTHA.

"If you travel from Exhibition Place to Union Station ... you are paying three or four times as much as someone who's travelling from much further away," Tory said when asked how the current fare system should be reworked to reflect a larger regional system.

 "If you're riding on the same train, on the same rails, why would you pay so much more to go a much shorter distance?," he said.

Metrolinx staff presented their board Tuesday with three options for integrating fares as the GTHA's transit network becomes more closely interconnected with the TTC. One of those options calls for a series of zones to be set up. The more zones a rider crosses, the more he or she will pay.

A more seamless fare system

The board was presented with three fare options that planners believe could make riding between the 905 and downtown Toronto more seamless, and more fair. 

* Modify the existing fare system, so that 905 riders pay only a little extra, or none at all, when transferring to the TTC.

* Create a new zone-based system. The more zones a commuter crosses, the higher the fare.

* A new hybrid system. Bus passengers would continue to pay a flat fare, but riders on subways, LRTs and GO Transit would be charged according to distance travelled.

Meantime, Tory said he believes commuters of the future must be given a more fair option, so they won't be scared away from public transit.

"As we move to implement SmartTrack and regional express rail, together with the TTC we want people to be able to move back and forth and use both systems as a means of getting around because that's the objective at the end of the day, isn't it?" Tory said.

"The objective is to help people get around the city,  and the more road blocks you throw in their way the more likely they are to simply keep using their car or something else that's not going to contribute to the city being better off."

Metrolinx staff are expected to make more detailed recommendations on fare integration to the board in the fall.

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