Ontario Liberals promise 'buck-a-ride' transit fares until 2024

The Ontario Liberals say they will slash transit fares to $1 per ride across the province until 2024 if they are elected in June.

The plan would apply to all municipal lines as well as Go Transit and Ontario Northland service, officials said

The cost of a single ride would be reduced to $1 while monthly passes would be about $40. Public transit would also be free for veterans.

In Toronto, it costs an adult $3.25 per ride on the TTC while a monthly pass is $156.

The $1 fares would be in place until January 2024, the party said.

"Our plan will provide families with immediate relief within the first 100 days of being elected, by slashing the price of transit to a buck-a-ride,” Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said in a statement.

“Under our plan, someone hopping on the GO train from Oakville to head in for a Blue Jays game will save nearly $20 on their round trip. And a commuter taking the GO from Whitby to Toronto would save more than $300 dollars a month.”

The party says the plan will cost about $710 million in 2022-23 and about $1.1 billion in 2023-24. According to the Grits, the province will shell out the money to replace the lost revenue, ensuring that municipalities won't be impacted.

Del Duca also pledged to invest an additional $375 million in annual transit operating funding to support more bus routes, extended service hours and "more intercity connections."

It is unclear how the government will be paying for this promise—Del Duca has said his party will release his fully-costed platform in the next few days. It is also not clear if transit fares will increase after 2024.

Speaking to reporters at Toronto's Metro Convention Centre Monday morning, Del Duca wouldn't confirm if transit users will see a fare hike after that deadline. Instead, he said he would work collaboratively with municipal partners and will take ridership information into account prior to making a final decision.

"We want the ridership numbers to come up. That's good for the environment, it's good for people's quality of life. It's good for the economy," he said.

The Grits also say their plan will take an average of 400,000 cars off the road each day—a number Del Duca said would be explained once his costed platform is released.

Ontario faces an affordability crisis and families expect their government to act. An @OntLiberal government will provide immediate relief by slashing transit fares to $1 so it’s quicker, less expensive, and less stressful.

More: https://t.co/z6zAW8IMzJ#TheChoiceIsYours #onpoli pic.twitter.com/INRnzRfbmx

— Steven Del Duca (@StevenDelDuca) May 2, 2022

The 'buck-a-ride' promise is eerily similar to Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford's 2018 buck-a-beer pledge, which lowered the minimum price of a bottle or can of beer to $1. Breweries offering discounted alcohol would have received prime spots in Liquor Control Board of Ontario stores in additional to other non-financial incentives.

Ford's buck-a-beer plan fizzled out after a few months, but Del Duca claims that buck-a-ride would not be a broken promise.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, meanwhile, said that while life should be more affordable, the Liberals had 15 years to do so prior to being unseated by the PCs.

"We've seen after 15 years of the Liberals a real disappointments around the promises they make when they run for office versus what happens when they're government," she said.

Del Duca, former Transportation Minister under Kathleen Wynne's government, rebutted questioning from reporters who asked if he was also responsible for skyrocketing fares, placing the blame for Ontario's high cost of living onto the Ford government, who has been in power for the last four years.