York Region council ponders raising transit fares
March 12, 2015
By Lisa Queen
Anti-poverty advocate Tom Pearson is livid about a proposed York Region transit fare increase.
“For what reason? I’m very passionate about this,” said Pearson, chairperson of York Region’s Poverty Action for Change Coalition.
“People are already at their limit. Those who use the bus, many are poor. They’re stretched to the limit.”
Councillors approved a YRT/Viva fare hike at a committee meeting last Thursday, although the increase must still be approved by council, which meets next on March 26.
If approved, fares would increase effective July 1 and a second hike would begin July 1, 2016.
Pearson complained the region’s fares are already very high and were increased following a three-month transit strike in late 2011 and early 2012.
A report to the transportation committee last week acknowledged several YRT/Viva fare categories are above the GTA average.
But the region has a reduced fare program for people on social assistance and fixed incomes, Richmond Hill Councillor Vito Spatafora, chairperson of the transportation committee, said.
While he said the region empathizes with anyone who would face financial hardship if the proposed fare increases are approved, he called the fare hikes modest and argued they are necessary as the region faces increased costs for transit repairs, replacements and more routes.
At the moment, property taxpayers pick up 61 per cent of the fare costs, while riders pay 39 per cent, Spatafora said.
“We need to find a fairer balance. We are looking at a 50/50 split, where 50 per cent is paid by the fare box and we’re not even close to that,” he said, adding a report is expect to come to council in the coming weeks looking at ways to get 45 per cent of costs through the fare box.
A more balanced split may come over time as ridership continues to increase, Spatafora said.
“We do have empathy for people on fixed incomes and we’re trying to do our best to make sure they have access to transit service,” he added.
If approved by council, all YRT/Viva single ticket fares will jump 10 cents on July 1 and another 10 cents on July 1, 2016.
For example, the current adult ticket fare of $3.30 is increasing to $3.40 this year and to $3.50 next year.
Today’s student ticket fare of $2.50 will climb to $2.60 this year and $2.70 next year.
Seniors and children will see their current ticket fare of $2 increase to $2.10 this year and to $2.20 next year.
Cash fares for everyone will remain at $4 both this year and next year.
An adult monthly pass, which now costs $132, would climb to $136 this July and $140 in July 2016.
A student monthly pass would jump from $99 now to $102 in July and $105 in July 2016.
The monthly pass for seniors and children, now set at $55, would increase to $57 in July and $59 in July 2016.
And an express monthly pass would rise $10 as the fares increase. It now costs $152 but that would climb to $157 in July and to $162 in July 2016.