OPI Submission to Metrolinx – Spring 2016
Our Place Initiative (OPI) is a not-for-profit, grassroots organization whose role is to encourage, build and facilitate civic engagement in our community. We want to help people build a better Etobicoke.
OPI strongly approves of the Metrolinx transit proposals as well as the evidence-based approach to ensure efficient and cost-effective mobility in the GTHA for the future. This is especially important as one million people will move to Toronto in the next 20 years. And a similar number moving to the rest of the GTHA over the same period.
We also realize that 'transportation as usual' will rapidly no longer be possible – especially travelling by road. There will be increasing auto gridlock from more residents in Toronto and the GTHA.
Metrolinx’s efforts to integrate fares with municipal transit systems is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to form the travel patterns for millions of people in the GTHA.
To increase transit use, the goal for public transit in the GTHA must be simple, seamless, and affordable transit. Otherwise we will have another UPX situation of fare inequality that only benefits higher income riders.
OPI strongly opposes fare by service type. This would separate transit riders from transit options and is contrary to a seamless transit network. Furthermore, it prices out lower income riders, those who have no other travel option, off faster transit and onto the cheapest but slowest alternative – the bus.
Toronto needs discounted transfers between TTC and GO within 416, like what 905 municipalities have between their local transit systems and GO Transit.
This would also fill unused capacity on both GO Transit and the TTC. For example, there is currently space for passengers on Lakeshore West GO trains in morning and evening rush hours. There is also space on the Line 1 Subway at Union going north at these times. Implementing TTC/GO fare integration within 416 improves mobility with no additional cost, and will attract many more passengers to both systems.
The network effect of cheaper intermodal connections will attract many drivers who previously thought that driving was the only cost-effective option for them.
With more frequent RER trains there will be additional capacity for passengers transferring from the TTC. GO-TTC co-fare integration will greatly expand GO Transit’s catchment area in Toronto, from the limited area around Union Station and other GO stations, to most of 416, which will greatly expand the area that GO/RER commuters can reach, which will in turn increase the number of GO/RER riders.
There is a strong culture and history of GO train ridership in Etobicoke. But separate GO and TTC fares have kept thousands from taking public transit, almost tripling the cost of a single TTC trip ($3.25 cash fare plus GO minimum fare of $5.30 = $8.55).
The TTC does not differentiate by transit service type. Residents in Etobicoke have invested in the current system by choosing their place of residence and employment.
If Metrolinx changes 416 transit use to fare by service type, such as for the Crosstown LRT line, people will definitely take notice and react negatively.
OPI is requesting that the TTC maintain its one zone structure, and to integrate the fares multiple service types for transit trips within 416. GO transit travel within Toronto should be accessible through an integrated TTC fare. And that the TTC fare structure should not increase as a result, as it is already one of the highest in North America.
The benefits are:
1) increased transit ridership that can be absorbed without increased service,
2) reduced automobile use in Toronto, with the benefits of less pollution,
3) increased connectivity and mobility for those living, working, studying and being entertained in Toronto.
4) a scalable transit riding culture, where residents can live in Toronto’s outer suburbs without a car.
Finally, we are hopeful that Metrolinx will eventually be able to add express GO trains to the Milton and Kitchener lines. These lines will then see the same migration of longer distance commuters to the express trains, freeing up seats on the all-stop local trains. We realize that implementing express GO trains on non-Lakeshore Lines is mostly dependent on the availability of passing tracks.