By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
Durham Region Transit (DRT) is set to raise its rates in 2020 as the organization transitions to PRESTO.
As the region’s transit executive committee discussed DRT’s strategic issues and financial forecast, DRT general manager Bill Holmes revealed rates would be going up five cents for those using PRESTO cards and tickets, and 25 cents for those using cash.
Currently, the standard price for ticket and PRESTO users is $3.20, and will go up to $3.25. For those paying with cash, the price will go from $3.75 to an even $4.
Seniors with PRESTO and tickets will see their fares go from $2.10 to $2.15, and $2.50 to $2.75 for those paying with cash.
Youth between 13 and 19 years of age will see their fare go up to $2.90 for PRESTO and ticket users, and from $3.75 to $4 for those paying with cash.
Lastly, children between six and 12 will see PRESTO and ticket prices go from $2.10 to $2.15, and cash prices go from $2.50 to $2.75.
Oshawa’s Ward 2 city and regional councillor Tito-Dante Marimpietri expressed his displeasure at the fares being raised.
“I was hoping that we would be able to look at different ways to fund transit as opposed to increasing fares,” he told The Oshawa Express.
He notes there are many families and students in his ward who depend on transit.
“I think we’re doing what we can to work on all aspects, but the remaining aspect is the affordability component, and if people take a look at what the monthly pass costs, they’ll recognize by simply breaking down the fares and looking at the monthly component, cost for transit can add up quite quickly,” he says.
He also notes he has some apprehension about the continued implementation of the PRESTO system.
“A component of the [fare] increase is based on the agreement that was made with PRESTO and Metrolinx, and essentially, a lot of what they do impacts us, and we’re now going to be entirely dependent on them,” he explains. “So I find it to be something that I’m a bit apprehensive about. Also our community has had more than its fair share of pressures and recent losses, and we are in need of more help than that of any in the province in order to help reposition our local economy, which in my opinion will depend on a more accessible, cost effective, and convenient public transit service for those who need it most.”
But he does hope he is proven wrong in his worries.
Committee also voted in favour of allowing all children 12-years-old and younger to ride for free beginning March 1, 2020.
The Kids Ride Free program was originally unveiled in May 2019 and is set to be made permanent.
Originally the project allowed children 12 and under to ride free as long as they were accompanied by a fare paying adult, but with the change, this will no longer be required.
“[The Kids Ride Free program] was a huge success, and it’s something that I hope to spearhead,” says Marimpietri. “I know that the province lead the way by introducing it first, but I’ve been advocating for this, and so have others on council for quite some time.”
He hopes the region could eventually make transit cost-free to other age groups as well.
“I’m going to continue to work with staff at the region, and my colleagues to make sure that we look at other means of providing service potentially to seniors [and students] for free, and maybe if we get to the point where we can offer everyone free transit, that may be… something in the long term that could be our focus,” he says.
The full implementation of the Kids Ride Free program will result in the sale of all child ticket and pass sales, PRESTO child fares, and the cancellation of Ride-to-Read program, a summer program which provided children with a special sticker on their library card the chance to ride the bus for free.