By Jordan Press
Students taking GO Transit could be hit with a fare increase starting this summer, unless Queen’s Park decides otherwise.
All but one member of GO’s board of directors voted to increase fares on student tickets by about 5 per cent at a board meeting last Friday. While general fares are going up by 15 cents a ride, it was noted at the meeting that student fares will jump by nearly twice that amount.
GO chairman Gordon Chong said that while there was dissension about forcing students to pay more, hiking fares is necessary.
“All our expenses are going up,” Chong said in an interview. “Nothing is going down.
“Nobody likes anything increasing. But people have gotten used to having our fares increase each April.”
The overall fare hike — the fifth in as many years — should kick in about $6.7 million to GO’s operations, $230,000 of which will be from the student hike. GO will use this money to add more trains during peak hours and expand weekend service for an expected jump in ridership to 44.7 million by the end of this year, up from 44.1 million.
The only hurdle left for the increase to be implemented is the Ministry of Transportation, who can nix the hike. A ministry spokesperson said the government doesn’t want to raise fares and will look at other options before giving their final approval for GO’s budget.
At the meeting, Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion was the loudest supporter for the increase, saying her city increased student transit fares and hadn’t seen a big dent in ridership.
“I do support the increase for students,” she said. “We can’t be treating different groups of people different ways.”
Chong said he doesn’t think students will stop using GO because of the hike. Last year, he said, GO approved a much steeper hike and students still rode GO.
“We don’t think there will be a significant drop in student ridership,” he said. “There’s still quite a discount.”
Right now, student monthly passes are discounted by 37 per cent of the general price. Under the new budget, the discount will drop to 33 per cent and hike the price of monthly passes going from Pickering to Union Station from $97 to approximately $105.
Chong said what concerned most students was whether or not GO would charge drivers for parking, but the idea was shot down because it wasn’t worthwhile for GO.