Regional fare integration inches closer

Beginning next summer, children aged up to five years may be able to ride York Region Transit (YRT) buses for free, while teenagers may no longer need to be high school students to purchase discounted youth tickets.

Those fare changes are both subject to 2021 budget approval and would be effective June 27 if given the green light. The changes would make YRT’s fare structure more consistent with other Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) transit agencies which is an important step towards regional fare integration.

Metrolinx, the provincial agency in charge of coordinating transit infrastructure and policy in the GTHA, and the 11 transit agencies in the GTHA continue to work towards a regional fare and service integration strategy that would eliminate two-fare payment between the 905 area, TTC and GO Transit. The strategy would also implement cross-boundary service to create operational efficiencies and improve travellers’ experiences.

Currently, each of those local agencies and GO Transit has its own fare structure which complicates and sometimes discourages travel across municipal boundaries. Presto, the contactless smart card automated fare collection system used on participating public transit systems, has harmonized the fare payment method, but the underlying calculation of how much a rider should pay remains fragmented.

“Changes to these fare categories across the transit agencies will help reduce confusion when travellers are going from one system to another,” says Township of King Mayor Steve Pellegrini, Chair of the York Region’s Transportation Services. “Families with young children plus youth graduating high school and entering the workforce will also benefit with the reduced fares.”

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