Would integrating the TTC just be too expensive?
By: Sherwin Sze-Wai Lau
Edited by: Jean-François Obregón
May 2, 2022
On March 14th of 2022, GO Transit announced fare integration for many local regional transits transferring to and from GO service vehicles. This would apply to Durham Region Transit, Milton Transit, Grand River Transit, Guelph Transit, Oakville Transit, MiWay, Brampton Transit, Hamilton Street Railway, Burlington Transit, Bradford West Gwillimbury Transit, York Region Transit, and Barrie Transit from this policy.  The TTC, however, is currently not included in this project, with negotiations ongoing between the Ministry of Transportation and the City of Toronto.
Figure 1: Transit Fare Structure for 13 Local Agencies in Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area
Credit: Sherwin Sze-Wai Lau
What is fare integration and how does it affect Ontario citizens?
Currently, citizens of Ontario that live in one municipality and commute to another municipality for work would have to pay twice on public transportation for crossing a border from one local transit system to another, or onto GO vehicles. Most commuters transfer from their local transit to GO Transit. Fare integration would mean connecting local transits with GO Transit, while only requiring one fare.
This project was presented by the Progressive Conservative government as a new concept that is in an experimentation stage.  The province estimated that “a Mississauga resident who commutes three days a week using MiWay and GO would save about $250 a year as a result of the new co-fare policy.”  In January 2018, the previous Liberal government had put in place a $1.50 discount for all UP Express, GO Transit and TTC commuters using said routes interchangeably.  The discounted fare project under the Liberals costed the province $18 million a year while prioritizing Toronto’s workforce and commuters—a cost that was proven to be too expensive to the Ministry of Transportation in March 31, 2020. 
For local transit commuters transferring to GO Transit, riders will still need to pay a transfer fee ranging from $0.50-$1.00 depending on how far away the regional transit is, except for Guelph, Barrie, and Hamilton. In terms of the budget put aside, Metrolinx is expected to run this project with an annual budget of $1.5 million dollars. It is expected by Metrolinx that GO ridership will recuperate to full capacity. This full ridership bounceback is supposed to be their hypothetical operational budget. According to Metrolinx, the provincially-owned transit agency is expecting a $212 million revenue for the third quarter of the 2022 fiscal year, while “GO and UP ridership in 2021-22 is forecasted to rebound to $ 27.4 million, or 36% of the 2019-20 levels.” However, a plan that involved Toronto regional ridership would be collectively more realistic for ridership as well as overall transit recovery since most GO Transit commuters from other municipalities are transferring to their day jobs in Toronto.
At the moment, the TTC is promising to continue to work with Metrolinx in exploring options to improve fare integration for customers–including re-introducing the Double Discount Fare to make GO services a more affordable alternative for all.
Featured image credit: Metrolinx. https://www.metrolinx.com/en/aboutus/careers/apply-now.aspx