Sky-high fuel prices won’t lead to fare increases: GTA transit agencies

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Transit agencies across the GTA say they will not raise fares as a result of soaring fuel prices squeezing their budgets.

Transit agencies are battling to accommodate record fuel costs. York Region said its bulk fuel purchase costs have increased around 50 cents per litre in the past six months.

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Despite the squeeze, Brampton Transit, Durham Regional Transit (DRT) and Metrolinx all confirmed to Global News that fares would not be raised to absorb costs. MiWay, York Regional Transit (YRT) and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) also said fares would remain unchanged.

In Mississauga, where the majority of buses run on diesel, changes to the price of fuel are impactful. A 10 cent increase in diesel prices results in a $1.8 million impact on the Mississauga budget, the city said.

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Its transit service, MiWay, budgeted $1 per litre of diesel in 2022 but its most recent purchase, on March 10, cost $1.57 per litre.

“The city maintains reserves to account unforeseen events,” Geoff Marinoff, director of transit, said.

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The impacts of COVID-19 on ridership have allowed YRT to adjust service to maintain prices. Fares have been frozen at 2019 levels and will not increase this year, the service said.

“YRT continues to manage impacts to operating costs by adjusting service hours to match demand,” a spokesperson said.

DRT said it was “too early in the year” to see if fuel prices would put pressure on its budget. DRT is introducing its first hybrid-electric buses this year and will also acquire electric buses.

The service’s fares will remain unchanged through 2022.

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In Brampton, the transit agency paid $1.45 per litre of diesel “in the first days in March” compared to a budget of $0.85 per litre.

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“There are currently no plans to raise fares in relation to an increase in fuel prices,” a spokesperson for the city pledged.

Metrolinx also said it will not raise prices and that high fuel prices could tempt riders back.

The COVID-19 pandemic and a rise in the number of people working from home has impacted transit ridership around the world.

“We just have to get riders back, we really do, it’s important to us,” Anne Marie Aikins, a spokesperson for provincial transit agency, said.

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Changes introduced on March 14 mean riders switching between GO Transit and GTA-905 transit agencies will be able to transfer for free. Additional discounts have also been introduced for students.

Fuel costs account for between seven and eight per cent of the Metrolinx operating budget and are negotiated in advance.

Marie Aikins said rising gas prices saw ridership on GO trains and buses rise “a couple of percentage points.”

The TTC has spent the “past several years” working to reduce its diesel consumption rate, according to a spokesperson. Toronto transit’s diesel consumption is down seven percent this year compared to 2021.

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“Our fare has been set for the year, it will not change,” the spokesperson said.

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