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Ontario ending TTC - GO - UPX discounted double-fare program, March 31



The discounted double fare (DDF) program offered PRESTO card users a $1.50 discount on their fares when transferring between GO Transit or Union Pearson express and the TTC. It resulted from a three-year agreement between Metrolinx and the TTC.

The agreement and the program end Tuesday, March 31.

The Government of Ontario has decided not to extend the program and has not established further plans to replace it.

Starting Wednesday, April 1, passengers with PRESTO fare cards who transfer between GO, UP Express and the TTC have to pay the full fare for each transit agency.

The double-fare discount was available only for PRESTO fare-card users who paid as they went with their cards. It wasn’t available if you used cash, paper tickets, tokens, a Metropass or a monthly pass on your PRESTO card. Adult, post-secondary student and senior passengers were eligible for this discount.

Adults were saving $1.50 to $1.60 when transferring. Students and seniors were saving 55 cents. The PRESTO system applied the discount automatically as you travel. All you had to do was tap your card. Passengers who regularly transferred between systems as part of their commutes could have saved as much as $780 annually.

The end of the program will particularly affect those travelling to and from York University’s Keele campus. Passengers who formerly rode GO buses directly to and from the campus — and paid just one fare — have had to transfer to the TTC’s Line 1 subway at Highway 407 Station since January 5, 2019. Many of these riders are low-income students who weren’t happy to pay the extra $1.50 per trip to or from school. They will be especially outraged that they’ll no longer receive a discount and will soon have to pay two full fares to complete their trips.

According to a Metrolinx news release, Ontario funded the program and budgetted $18.4 million annually to compensate the transit agencies for lost fare revenue. The program was popular among passengers, however, and always exceeded the budget each year - by $2.6 million in 2018-2019 and by as much as $6.7 million in 2019-2020. Metrolinx has covered the $9.3-million shortfall since it launched the program, Sunday, January 7, 2018. In April 2019, the TTC increased its fare for program users by ten cents or $1.60.

Metrolinx says it “will be bringing forward solutions in the near future to help our [passengers] travel through the region using different methods of transit.” Since 2018, it says, it “has introduced programs such as Kids GO Free, Sunday Funday and lower short-distance fares for GO Transit.”

The TTC says, “Programs like this and other fare options will be reviewed as part of our 5-Year Fare Policy and 10-Year Collection Strategy currently in development.”

The end of the DDF program does not affect Metrolinx co-fare agreements with other transit agencies in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area.