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GO Transit fares rising along with service


Fares will rise 25 cents per ride across the GO system in March.

Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

On-time performance has improved, but fares go up March 20

Published On Fri Feb 19 2010

Tess Kalinowski
Transportation Reporter

While the TTC continues to wrestle with its customer service issues, GO Transit officials believe their performance has improved following a similar crisis about two years ago.

On-time performance improved for seven straight months in the past year, and 5,000 new parking spots were added across the system — 1,500 more than transit officials had promised for the year.

Still to come are easier-to-read schedules, shorter wait times for phone service and other communications enhancements, said GO managing director Gary McNeil.

“If you’re on GO, everything should be easy. To find out information should be easy, to take the service should be easy — and that’s our main focus,” he said Friday.

GO’s on-time performance was up about 2 per cent in the last fiscal year, over 2008.

That’s the year 11,000 angry riders put their names to a petition complaining about late trains and the apparent indifference of transit officials to their plight.

In response, GO set up a customer advisory committee. It has also reduced crowding, with additional seating on longer trains and new runs to Milton, Lakeshore East and Niagara Falls in the summer.

Although there have been no official meetings between TTC officials and GO staff, there have been informal discussions on customer service issues, said McNeil.

Meantime, the two transit agencies have agreed that GO riders can use their tickets on the TTC when there are train delays at stations such as Kennedy, which serve both systems.

But not everyone is impressed.

For a second year, Milton commuter Andrew Salmons delivered a petition against a 25-cent flat fare hike approved by GO’s governing board, now called Metrolinx. Effective March 20, a monthly pass between Oshawa and Union Station will cost $272.25, rather than $260.

“There’s a 5 per cent increase this year, there was a 5 per cent increase last year. Fifty per cent of the people who ride it make over $100,000 (per year). What about the people who make $30,000? Is public transit only for the rich?” he said, following the board meeting.

He was not allowed to speak to the board because it doesn’t have a mechanism for public deputations. But Salmons, who is running for Milton council, said he didn’t expect to be heard after emails from senior Metrolinx officials were accidentally copied to him.

Metrolinx chief executive Rob Prichard sent McNeil a note saying he expected Salmons’ petition to “be ignored in the discussion at the board.”

Prichard later wrote Salmons an apology for his “unfortunate language,” saying he meant, “I don’t believe your view will prevail.”

Metrolinx says the fare increase is expected to raise $14.6 million toward GO’s $386.7 million 2010-2011 operating budget. GO is expecting a $72.1 million subsidy, up about $20 million from the previous year.

It expects to recoup 81 per cent of its operating costs from fare revenue, but that’s down from about 85 per cent last year.