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Ontario Greens want transit fares cut in half with gas prices reaching record levels recently

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The Green Party of Ontario says it wants to see the province cut public transit fares in half for three months with gas prices reaching record-high levels recently.

“The affordability crunch is hurting Ontarians. People need affordable options to get around and need relief right now,” Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said in a statement issued Wednesday.

“Cutting fares in half is an immediate measure with immediate benefits that can help address the worsening fuel and cost of living crisis as well as the climate emergency.”

The statement noted that gas prices have soared recently, with some areas of the province currently seeing $1.70 per litre.

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The party wants to see fares cut in half for all transit systems across the province for three months, including municipal systems, as well as GO and Northland.

“The Ford government plans to spend billions on expensive, climate-polluting highways,” the party said in the statement.

“Reallocating just a small portion of that money to municipalities and transit systems will cover this immediate relief program.”

The province recently announced a move to scrap some transit transfer fees, meaning that local transit in some communities is free for riders connecting to and from GO Transit on municipal systems.

As well, discounts for youth aged 13 to 19 and post-secondary students riding GO Transit and UP Express increased to 40 per cent off the full adult fare, which the government said is almost double the previous discounts.

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Feds provide $271M in funding for Mississauga, Ont. transit system

When asked about the calls from the Green Party to cut transit fares in half, Bradley Metlin, spokesperson for Associate Transport Minister Stan Cho, said the government is “already cutting the costs for transit riders.”

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“We made it free for kids 12 and under to ride GO Transit. We increased discounts for youth and post-secondary students to 40 per cent off the full adult fare,” Metlin said.

“We also made local transit free for all riders to and from GO Transit in most municipalities throughout the GTHA, which could save frequent commuters hundreds of dollars each year.

“In addition to the money we’ve kept in the pockets of transit riders, we have provided up to $1.6 billion in provincial dollars to help transit agencies maintain their services during the pandemic.”

— with files from The Canadian Press

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