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SmartTrack (Proposed)

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?
 

crs1026

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Make me wonder why it is a dead plan. It atually is a decent idea, so why is it so dead?
It was unrealistic and not practically operational. One segment proposed building a new heavy rail line through suburban Etobicoke. The other proposed superimposing service on ML owned rail lines that could not support two different levels of service within the infrastructure that ML planned to build for RER. As the planning discussions proceeded, it became clear that it would be either unworkable or extremely expensive to add enough infrastructure to accommodate both GO and ST. It was also unclear whether there would be sufficient ridership, depending on where the SRT replacement was built.

The premise of using GO corridors as a within-416 people mover was quite rational, but nobody in Tory's shop had a clue how it would work.

- Paul
 

Rainforest

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It was unrealistic and not practically operational. One segment proposed building a new heavy rail line through suburban Etobicoke. The other proposed superimposing service on ML owned rail lines that could not support two different levels of service within the infrastructure that ML planned to build for RER. As the planning discussions proceeded, it became clear that it would be either unworkable or extremely expensive to add enough infrastructure to accommodate both GO and ST. It was also unclear whether there would be sufficient ridership, depending on where the SRT replacement was built.

The premise of using GO corridors as a within-416 people mover was quite rational, but nobody in Tory's shop had a clue how it would work.

- Paul
They might have had no idea how to make it work when Tory won the office, but they could hire the right people afterwards, andf still make parts of the plan work. More stations + more trains + some kind of reduced fares for intra-416 trips.

John Tory, despite having pretty good day-to-day management skills, appeared to be too timid to pursue and implement his own vision.
 

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