Metrolinx considers fare by distance for GTHA transit users

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Millions of transit users commuting across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area could soon find themselves paying their fare based on how far they travel.

In developing a new integrated fare system, Metrolinx is now considering a fare by distance model, where passengers would be paying based on the distance traveled through regional, local and rapid transit. This would include passengers commuting on 10 municipal transit agencies, on subways, streetcars, buses, and GO Transit.

“We’ve been studying travel patterns throughout the GTHA,” Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins explained. “Where people go, how long their trips are, how much do they pay, and looking at jurisdictions around the world, many of whom use fare by distance model.”

This latest model was announced in a public report on Tuesday, and is one of four models the transit agency is currently considering.

The first concept would include a discounted or free cross-boundary fare for riders who need to transfer.

The second model is based on geography — where shorter trips on local transit would be priced lower, depending on how many zones are crossed.

The third is a hybrid concept that would have different fares depending on the mode of transportation. A wide flat fare would be applied for local transportation, such as buses, while rapid transit, such as subways, LRT and Go Transit, would have a fare based on distance.

These models were developed after the Ministry of Transportation penned a letter this past September asking that the transit authority implement a fare integration.

Metrolinx said more than 55,000 riders currently pay two fares for one trip, which, according to the transit authority, discourages transit use.

According to the report, the fare by distance model is highly favoured, because it provides the greatest consistency in fares and would increase ridership due to the lower cost for short trips.

“The ideal way that fare integration would work throughout the GTHA is that we would all have the same policies,”Aikins said. “That’s what we’re working towards, it’s a huge challenge, when you’re working with so many different agencies.”

The decision on which model to adopt will be made along with the ten transit agencies.

“The TTC has been working closely with Metrolinx and all of the other GTHA transit agencies on fare integration concepts. We look forward to continuing with them,” TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said in a statement to CityNews.

“The TTC board would decide, ultimately, if the TTC fare structure is going to change.”

A board meeting is set to discuss the options on Friday.

Metrolinx will send a final proposal to the province by the end of year.

There’s no timeline yet as to when we could see a fare system put in place.

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