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SmartTrack (Proposed)

W. K. Lis

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City to expand discounted TTC fare program to 23,000 more low-income Torontonians

See link.

The city will offer an additional 23,000 low income Torontonians access to its discounted TTC fare program, a move that Mayor John Tory says will “make life more affordable” for residents who are struggling to get by.

Tory made the announcement at the Alexandra Park Early Learning & Child Care Centre on Thursday morning.

The discounted fare program was previously offered to 150,000 residents who receive payments through Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program but the program will now be expanded to the 23,000 Torontonians who receive child care subsidies.
It should be noted that the families of the 17,284 children on the wait list for subsidized child care spots will not be eligible for the discount.

Tory conceded that it is unfortunate that the program cannot be expanded to those people as well but he said that it would be impossible to verify their incomes for the purpose of determining eligibility, at least for now.

“The City of Toronto and its residents know that an affordable and reliable transit system is key to everyday life because it connects people to jobs, to services and just to life in the city. If they can’t afford transit they may not, for example, be able to take a specific job or go to a necessary medical appointment and these are things that are going to help lift people out of poverty,” Tory said. “That is why we introduced the fare pass discount program, that is why we introduced the kids ride free program and that is one of the reason we introduced the two-hour transfer.”

Participants can save nearly $32 on monthly pass

The discounted TTC fare program was launched in April, 2018 as part of the city’s poverty reduction strategy.

Eligible residents can receive a Presto card, which entitles them to a one-third discount on the cost of a adult fare. The discount drops the cost of a single adult fare by about a dollar to $2.05 and it reduces the cost of a monthly pass by almost $32 to $119.40.

Tory said that the hope is to eventually expand the eligibility for the program to all low-income residents, though he said those efforts have been complicated by actually identifying low-income Torontonians.

“It is frustrating that you can’t just get the information readily but the fact is that it is complex and I know that our officials are working very hard to try to address these issues, so that we can extend it to the entire group,” he said, noting that income information will have to be provided by Revenue Canada. “It will be extended as soon as we get these issues resolved but it taking some time to do that.”

Tory said that staff have already begun notifying childcare subsidy recipients of their eligibility for the fare pass discount program and will continue to do so over the coming days and weeks.

He said that the cost of extending the discounted fare program to the subsidy recipients will be $2.4 million a year, bringing the annual cost of all of the TTC’s various fare discount programs to $25 million.

“This investment is going to earn a substantial return in terms of people that will now have access to this program that I think will help them not only have their life be more affordable but also be more mobile in the city,” he said.

More than 150,000 Torontonians have been eligible for the program since April, 2018, though only 62,000 have signed up so far.
The problem is really the lack of the knowledge of the eligibility. If you don't ask, one will not get it.
 

W. K. Lis

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GO-TTC discount fares to end as Ontario pulls the plug on funding

From link.

The popular program that provides discounts for trips between GO Transit and the TTC will expire at the end of March, after the Ontario PC government declined to continue funding it and the two transit agencies failed to reach an agreement to make up the shortfall.

The province has contributed $18.4 million a year to pay for the program, which was launched by the previous Liberal government in January 2018 and offers riders transferring between GO or the Union Pearson Express and the TTC $1.50 off their trip if they use a Presto fare card.

Premier Doug Ford’s government signalled last year it would end funding for the initiative. But on Tuesday TTC CEO Rick Leary asserted in his latest monthly report that Metrolinx, the provincial agency that operates GO, was “in discussions with the province to secure funding to extend the discount double fare” beyond its March 31, 2020 expiry date.

Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney’s office declined to answer questions about whether the province would continue to fund the discount Tuesday, referring the Star to Metrolinx.

Tuesday evening Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins confirmed that the program “will end as scheduled on March 31, 2020.”

She said that the program had exceeded its allotted budget each fiscal year, by $2.6 million in 2018-2019 and by $6.7 million in 2019-2020, for a total of $9.3 million. Metrolinx made up the shortfall in both years.

Aikins noted that Metrolinx has introduced other fare discounts in recent years, including letting children ride free and lowering the cost of shorter trips.

“Metrolinx and the Ministry of Transportation will continue to work collaboratively with all of its municipal partners, towards more accessible and affordable transit across the region,” she said.
The popular program that provides discounts for trips between GO Transit and the TTC will expire at the end of March, after the Ontario PC government declined to continue funding it and the two transit agencies failed to reach an agreement to make up the shortfall.

The province has contributed $18.4 million a year to pay for the program, which was launched by the previous Liberal government in January 2018 and offers riders transferring between GO or the Union Pearson Express and the TTC $1.50 off their trip if they use a Presto fare card.

Premier Doug Ford’s government signalled last year it would end funding for the initiative. But on Tuesday TTC CEO Rick Leary asserted in his latest monthly report that Metrolinx, the provincial agency that operates GO, was “in discussions with the province to secure funding to extend the discount double fare” beyond its March 31, 2020 expiry date.

Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney’s office declined to answer questions about whether the province would continue to fund the discount Tuesday, referring the Star to Metrolinx.

Tuesday evening Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins confirmed that the program “will end as scheduled on March 31, 2020.”

She said that the program had exceeded its allotted budget each fiscal year, by $2.6 million in 2018-2019 and by $6.7 million in 2019-2020, for a total of $9.3 million. Metrolinx made up the shortfall in both years.

Aikins noted that Metrolinx has introduced other fare discounts in recent years, including letting children ride free and lowering the cost of shorter trips.

“Metrolinx and the Ministry of Transportation will continue to work collaboratively with all of its municipal partners, towards more accessible and affordable transit across the region,” she said.
Since 2018, millions of transit users have taken advantage of the lower fares.

In a July 5, 2019 letter to the TTC, Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster said there were 1.6 million transfers between GO and the TTC in March 2019 alone, and the discount collectively saved riders more than $2 million that month.

In the letter, Verster sang the discount’s praises, saying it offered “attractive and convenient connections” for customers and had “clearly benefited Toronto residents.”

“Removing barriers between our services is beneficial to customers and contributes to ridership and revenue growth,” Verster wrote.
In his letter Verster said the provincial funding wouldn’t be extended past March 31, 2020 and proposed a new arrangement, under which the TTC and Metrolinx would put up matching funds to continue the discount.

The two agencies never reached such an agreement.
Guess we can pull the plug on "Smarttrack" if there will be no discount between GO and the TTC.


 

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ViveleCanada

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Given that the SSE is returning to the 3 stop proposal, has any level of government updated the status of Lawrence East station? From my understanding, this station was threatening to siphon riders away from the proposed subway station on Lawrence which didn't have very rosy ridership numbers even without Smarttrack being right next door. Has the planned frequency of the Stouffville line now become too infrequent for it to be a threat to the new subway station or is it just too early to be asking this sort of question? According to Metrolinx's website, the planned frequency of the Stouffville line has returned to every 15 minutes.
 

robmausser

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Smartrack was just an election ploy. There was never really any plan to do it, was there?
The plan for the 6 GO stations that are a consequence of Smarttrack are still planned to be built, after securing funding from the feds.

But they will be quite underused in my opinion without some kind of fare integration with the TTC.
 

Mrgeosim

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the 6 proposed stations are being pursued through a P3 model of procurement, which will (attempt) to put the cost of the station's construction on the private land developer. Also, fare integration is something that Metrolinx has been studying for years. I don't think we should write it off as a future possibility.

Smarttrack may have been DOA but the addition of more urban GO stations will help a significant number of people going downtown.
 

micheal_can

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John Tory got elected in 2014 based on his SmartTrack plan, which he promised would be up and running in 7 years. 6 years have passed - I bet we're all enthusiastically looking forward to using this new service next year!!
Make me wonder why it is a dead plan. It atually is a decent idea, so why is it so dead?
 

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