If you are hopping on the subway after taking a GO train downtown or using a TTC bus to continue your journey, you could soon find yourself saving a few dollars per trip.

Associate Minister of Transportation Stan Cho has confirmed to CP24.com that the Ford government will be adding the TTC to its fare integration program with GO Transit “by the end of the year.”

The confirmation comes a little over a week after the Ford government made a promise to expand the program across the GTHA as part of its budget, though few details were provided at the time.

“While we will have more to say regarding program implementation soon, I am proud to confirm that the initiative will be fully funded by the province and will launch by the end of the year, making transit cheaper for riders in Ontario,” Cho said in a statement provided to CP24.com.

Commuters using GO Transit to connect to service provided by more than a dozen local agencies haven’t had to pay a second fare since March 2022, including on most transit services in the GTA.

But the TTC was left out of the initial rollout and its riders have continued to have to pay twice, even in cases where their journeys begin and end in Toronto.

In an interview with CP24 on Friday, Toronto Region Board of Trade President and CEO Jan De Silva welcomed the news of the TTC’s eventual inclusion in the fare integration program, calling it an “incredibly important first step” in thinking about transit differently.

“We've got to deal with the fact that we've got transit agencies that since the 60s and 70s have been building transit in city jurisdictions when in fact our workers can live in one city and work in another and need to transit across,” De Silva said. “There's been a critical need for over a decade now to look at fair integration and service integration to support workers that are trying to move from one part of the region to another and this is an important first step.”

De Silva said that the TRBOT has been calling for fare integration across the GTA since at least 2014.

While the Ford government proposal will only apply to commuters switching from GO Transit to local transit or vice versa for the time being, De Silva said that it is her expectation that the program will eventually allow commuters to seamlessly switch over from one transit agency to another.

That, she said, would be a “huge game changer” for many Torontonians and might help the city address some staffing shortages that are starting to result from the increased cost of commuting downtown, especially for essential workers like teachers and nurses.

“There's a lot more that we hope to have happen even beyond just the service and fare integration,” she said. “You know, we've got critical parts of our region that are just so poorly served (by transit). Our second biggest employment district in the country is the area around Pearson Airport. You have Amazon, UPS and Canada Post there and you have one million cars a day driving in there because there's insufficient transit to connect those workers to those jobs. So we're going to need more build out happening there and it needs to be fare integrated to other parts of the region.”


Discounted fares were scrapped in 2020

Under the previous Liberal government, there was an agreement with Metrolinx that offered commuters a $1.50 discount on TTC fares when they transferred from the GO Transit network.

There was also another program predating that in which TTC Metropass holders could pay $60 a month for a sticker that would give them access to parts of the GO Transit network within Toronto. 

The discounts, however, were cancelled by the Ford government in 2020.

Shelagh Pizey-Allen, who is the Executive Director of the transit advocacy group TTCriders, told CP24 on Friday that a fare integration system across the GTA is “long overdue” and could ultimately encourage more people to ride transit” by making it cheaper and easier to understand.

She also said that the initiative would be particularly helpful for Scarborough residents, who will be left with fewer transit options once the Scarborough RT closes down later this year.

But Pizey-Allen said that the province also needs to invest in public transit in order for people to get the “maximum benefit” out of a more regionalized network. 

The TTC is currently losing hundreds of millions of dollars every year as a result of a reduction in ridership since the COVID-19 pandemic and has already slashed service on dozens of routes in a bid to cut costs.

“Really, the most urgent issue for TTC users right now is service cuts. The provincial government didn't include any transit funding in its budget last week and without more provincial and federal funding, the TTC could make deeper cuts later this year,” Pizey-Allen warned. “So it's great to hear that the provincial government might subsidize free transfers, we will be watching for the details, but we also need more frequent service for people to, you know, get the maximum benefit out of that.”

In a statement provided to CP24 on Friday, a spokesperson for Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie said that “she looks forward to working with the province on the implementation” of a fare integration system between the TTC and GO Transit and has an “expectation” that any the TTC will not face any further revenue loss as a result of the initiative.