Kids under 12 will soon be able to ride GO Transit for free

Children under 12 will soon be allowed to ride on GO Transit for free, a move Ontario’s transportation minister says will boost ridership and revenue on the regional transit system.

Jeff Yurek said Thursday that the new policy will begin March 9 and is expected to increase revenue on the system by $9.3 million annually as more parents will be encouraged to take transit with their kids.

As of March 9, GO transit will be free for children under 12. Photo by GTD Aquitaine via Wikimedia Commons.
As of March 9, GO transit will be free for children under 12. Photo by GTD Aquitaine via Wikimedia Commons.

“Making transit an easier and more affordable choice for parents cuts through gridlock by helping to get traffic off our roads,” Yurek said.

Currently, children under five can ride for free on GO Transit while children between the ages of six and 12 receive a discounted fare.

Metrolinx — which provides regional public transit for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area — said the new free fare will apply to all GO Transit buses and trains.

Families will not need to have Presto fare cards or a printed ticket to get a free ride for children, said CEO Phil Verster.

Last year, the agency ran a pilot project allowing children 12 and younger to ride for free on its Barrie Line. It found ridership increased by seven per cent on week days and 17 per cent on weekends.

“More parents, more families, travel and that offsets the revenue forgone from not charging kids to travel,” Verster said.

Verster downplayed concerns that the new system will lead to an increase in fare evasion, saying the agency has hired a dozen new fare inspectors who will begin work in April.

“Our fare inspectors use judgment and can ask for identification if there’s any concern with the age of an individual,” he said.

Metrolinx is also working with ride hailing companies to provide discounts to riders that encourage them to use public transit as part of their journey, Verster said.

“When you are picked up or dropped off at a GO station you get a super-duper discount on top of that,” he said.

Children under 12 can already ride for free on Toronto’s transit system and on the Union Pearson Express connecting downtown Toronto to Pearson International Airport.

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