Metrolinx has announced a year-long pilot project to make the cost of commuting to Union Station cheaper for TTC Metropass users from two GO stations in Toronto. Starting January 26, Metropass holders will be able to purchase a monthly $60 sticker at Exhibition, Union, and Danforth GO stations, good for unlimited GO Train travel between those stations starting February 1.

The regular cost of travel on from Exhibition to Union will be $5.30 as of February 1. With a Presto card the cost will be $4.77 on February 1.

The regular cost of travel on from Danforth to Union will be $5.65 as of February 1. With a Presto card the cost will be $5.09 on February 1. 

With the new monthly $60 sticker, the cost—assuming one trip each way on an average of 20 work days per month, or 40 one way trips—drops to just $1.50 on each trip, plus the $133.75 cost of a monthly TTC Metropass averaged out over each trip. (A Metropass holder who only used it to ride the GO Train for those same 40 trips would be paying an additional $3.34 per trip, making each trip cost a total of $4.84.)

Riding the Lakeshore East and West GO trains, which now have half-hourly service all day, can save 10 minutes travel time from Exhibition to Union over King Streetcar times, or 15 minutes travel time from Danforth compared with subway travel. Transit riders shifting to GO from TTC for this portion of travel will also ease crowding on the King streetcar and Yonge subway respectively.

A GO Train passes work to expand services on the Georgetown South corridorA GO Train passes work to expand services on the Georgetown South corridor in Summer 2014, image by Craig White

Those riding GO to Union Station from other stations in Toronto will not be eligible for the pilot project. GO riders between Mimico and Union Stations, for example, will still have to pay $5.60 per ride, or $5.04 with a Presto Card, plus TTC fare if they also use it. Riders of transit systems connected to GO beyond Toronto pay reduced fares when they show valid GO tickets or passes. For example, Burlington transit riders pay $0.70 per ride to and from GO stations.

The pilot project is the first step in an eventual fare integration, expected between the TTC and GO, which will become more necessary as the GO RER program converts the commuter rail system into an regional express rail system over the coming years, making travel by GO Train within the 416 a much more attractive option than it is currently.

The pilot project is, to a great degree, the response to the Liberty on the GO campaign spearheaded by Toronto City Councillor Mike Layton and Liberty Village residents. A petition to reduce the fare from Exhibition Station resulted in thousands of signatures and lobbying by Toronto Council to the provincial government.

Mike Layton's newsletter states today "Our work isn’t over. This is only a start and one step towards the fare integration we were asking for. A fully integrated fare would be even more affordable and would not require you to buy monthly passes across two transit systems. And - we are still continuing to advocate for a stop for Liberty Village on the Kitchener GO line. You can see all the details at mikelayton.to/LibertyontheGO. While this does not go far enough, it is a huge step in the right direction and we need to give it a chance."