When it comes to local public transit and the integration of fares, it seems there are more questions than answers.
A scroll through the questions at Talk2YRT, a website run by York Region Transit (YRT) to help riders with their transportation concerns, shows a general lack of understanding about how and why YRT and the TTC operate as they do.
Commuters from Newmarket and other communities in York Region ask such things as: Would you consider merging with the TTC?; Why do I have to pay a second fare just because I travel across Steeles Avenue?; With bad weather coming, does YRT work on the same schedule?; Why don’t PRESTO transfers work between YRT/Viva and the TTC? and; Can I transfer from TTC to YRT within the TTC's two-hour PRESTO transfer window?
To help demystify travel between York Region and Toronto, NewmarketToday spoke with York Region Transit general manager Ann-Marie Carroll.
First, YRT and TTC are two completely different and separate transit agencies subsidized, in part, by taxpayers in their own jurisdictions. There isn’t yet an agreement between the two transit providers to offer riders a single fare for use of both services.
What’s more, software limitations of the PRESTO smart card make it impossible at the present time for YRT riders to use that fare card on the TTC card-reader system, even though the TTC itself is phasing out its Metropass in favour of the PRESTO card for Jan. 1, 2019.
“We all put pressure on the PRESTO group, some days I’m sure we’re not their favourite people,” Carroll said. “We’re working closely with them, including the TTC, to try to figure out how to make the system more customer-friendly, more service-friendly. But it’s a software problem that PRESTO needs to solve.”
In addition, any progress toward fare integration is at least two years out, Carroll added, as YRT will, as early as next year, need to begin upgrading its own equipment.
Fare integration is offered across the entire 905-region, said Carroll, which can take travellers from York Region into Durham and beyond.
Riders can board a YRT bus and transfer for free within a two-hour window on transit within Peel and Durham regions. That two-hour window is also good for the handful of TTC routes that run in York Region but, again, because of PRESTO limitations, cash or paper tickets must be used.
“There are some technical issues that don’t allow the cross-boundary ability to integrate fares from the 905 area and the TTC,” Carroll said. “Our link is Metrolinx, and fare integration is part of our regular conversation with them.”
Carroll said that careful consideration has to be given to finding “the right solution”.
“We do need the province to assist us and, likely, that includes funding, as well,” she said. “You have to take the financial piece into consideration. We don’t recover 100 per cent of our operating costs with fares. Transit is subsidized by local taxpayers, and we have to think about the impact that has.”
For more information, visit York Region Transit