There are 10 public transit agencies in the GTHA. Currently each has its own, separate system for paying fares and each has its own fare structure. This means, for example, that people who travel from a local bus in one city, to a GO train, and then to the subway in Toronto need to pay three different fares, or have three different transit passes for their trip. Other jurisdictions in Canada and around the world have integrated their transit fare systems to offer a more consistent and seamless service to travellers. The Ontario Ministry of Transportation launched a regional farecard pilot project called Presto in the summer of 2007. By 2012, the Presto farecard will allow users to swipe the card and automatically be billed for travelling on transit systems anywhere in the GTHA. There is a potential to expand Presto to become the premiere payment platform in the GTHA and revolutionize the way that travellers interact with the transportation system. There is also an opportunity to use it to help integrate fares across the region.



A region-wide integrated transit fare system.

6.1 Implement a region-wide integrated transit fare system by 2012 that allows users to pay a seamless, integrated fare for all transit systems across the region.

Presto smart card No more tokens or tickets: the Presto smart card will allow transit riders to pay their fare in any part of the region with a single card.
Octopus transit Transit riders in Hong Kong can use their Octopus transit smart card for payment at stores and restaurants. Frequent users receive reward points.
integrated fare system An integrated fare system can enable travellers to cross municipal boundaries or transfer between transit modes or operators without fare duplication.

6.2 Over time, leverage the Presto fare smart card’s technology to offer new fare products and integrate fares throughout the region. Pursue partnerships with financial institutions, local businesses, tourism destinations, transit agencies and public sector agencies to expand the scope of the Presto fare smart card to function as a debit card, library card, parking pass, bike share card or to offer discounts and reward points.

McMaster University’s U-PASS program provides all McMaster students with an eight-month transit pass for only $94.80 annually. An overwhelming 89 per cent of students voted in favour of the program in the last referendum.

6.3 Expand GO Transit’s local transit subsidy program for riders who are travelling to GO stations using local transit.

If an employer provides a free or subsidized transit pass, it is considered a taxable benefit and the employee has to pay tax on it. If the employer provides free parking, however, it is not considered a taxable benefit and the employee does not have to pay tax on it, unless there is a specific spot reserved for their exclusive use.

6.4 Provide financial incentives to encourage greater transit use, such as:

  • expanding the use of U-PASS programs currently offered by many transit providers;
  • making employer-provided or employer-subsidized transit passes tax-exempt; and
  • offering bulk discounts on transit pass sales to employers and major trip generators.

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