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GO Transit to hike fares

Friday, November 24, 2000

GO Transit will raise commuter fares and add service next year, when ridership is expected again to set new records for growth.

The proposed service improvements — including new bus routes, stations and parking lots — are expected to help boost the number of passengers to 42.6 million in 2001, a 4.5 per cent rise over this year.

Setting growth records for annual ridership has become the norm for the inter-regional commuter train and bus system. Later this month, for example, GO plans to celebrate hitting a new peak of 40 million riders this year.

But GO officials warned that $2-million improved service planned for 2001 is still far short of the investment needed to tackle road congestion in the Toronto region.

“It means we are starting to grow and expand, but it is the tip of the iceberg of what our funding requirements really are,” Gary McNeil, managing director of GO Transit, said in an interview. For example, GO estimates that it needs an additional $100-million a year for the next decade to meet the growth in demand expected from increasingly frustrated commuters.

The planned service expansion was approved earlier this month by the GO board, made up of representatives from Toronto and four surrounding regional governments.

GO board member Joyce Savoline, the chairwoman of Halton Region, said yesterday the added service for 2001 signals that “we’re trying to get as many cars off the road as possible.”

But she warned that any improvements will remain incremental in nature until local governments win over Ontario and the federal government as long-term funding partners.

“We’re doing good things,” she said of GO’s plans this year to add new bus service, new stations and parking lots. GO will also proceed with a new bus terminal opposite Union Station that will relieve a crowded Front Street at rush hour.

But she added, “to create the solutions that people want, we need a partnership with the federal and provincial governments.”

In the meantime, GO is financing its service improvements by dipping into capital reserves and relying on its municipal owners for a modest increase in subsidies. More than 80 per cent of GO’s operating funds come from the fare box.

If approved next spring, a 15-cent fare hike to cover increased diesel fuel costs would raise the basic one-way adult fare to $2.75 a ride, which translates into an extra $4-$5 for a monthly pass or $1.50-$2-a week for a 10-ticket ride per week. GO Transit service expansion

York University, 2001 Rutherford, 2001 McCowan, 2001 Mt. Joy, 2002 Kennedy, 2002 Green Line, 2003