Ontario Liberals promise 'buck-a-ride' plan that would drop transit fares to $1 everywhere
If the promise of $1 beers helped Ontario PC Leader and Premier Doug Ford get elected in 2018, could a similar pledge to roll out $1 public transit rides work for the Liberals Party's Steven Del Duca?
The latter politician seems to be banking on it ahead of Ontario's 2022 general election, at least in part, with a newly-announced plan he's calling "buck-a-ride."
And if you thought Ford's (now pretty much defunct) "buck-a-beer" program seemed ambitious, you'll definitely have some questions about how Del Duca plans to drop fares down to $1 per ride on all public transit lines across the province for two solid years.
"Steven Del Duca has announced that an Ontario Liberal government would slash transit fares to $1 per ride on every transit line in Ontario, reducing gridlock and greenhouse gas emissions while making life more affordable for Ontario families," announced the liberals on Monday morning, just days before the writ is set to drop for June 2022's general election.
"The fare reduction would apply to every transit system in Ontario, including municipal transit, all GO Transit services, and Ontario Northland service – with the provincial government fully replacing transit systems' lost revenue, ensuring no municipal government is impacted by this decision."
Unlike Doug Ford’s broken promise of ‘buck-a-beer,’ an @OntLiberal government will deliver Buck-a-Ride for all transit riders, making life more affordable for Ontario families, while reducing gridlock & greenhouse gas emissions.#TheChoiceIsYours #onpoli https://t.co/yioxR35pub— Steven Del Duca (@StevenDelDuca) May 2, 2022
The plan includes cutting down all individual public transit fares to $1 and reducing monthly metro passes to just $40 until at least January of 2024.
Del Duca says that his government, if elected, would implement the program within the first 100 days of taking office.
This would, according to the Liberals, remove an average of 400,000 cars off the road each day without hurting the bottom lines of any regional or municipal transit agencies.
The TTC, for instance, wouldn't lose $2.25 of every current $3.25 fare — the government would simply cover the extra cost (above $1) for riders. Veterans would ride completely free.
"Under our plan, someone hopping on the GO train from Oakville to head in for a Blue Jays game will save nearly $20 on their round trip. And a commuter taking the GO from Whitby to Toronto would save more than $300 dollars a month," said Del Duca in a release n Monday.
"Ontario Liberals are offering a choice. With the Ford Conservatives, Ontario gets billions wasted on one highway that won't be completed for a decade and will not make a difference on commute times. With our Ontario Liberal plan, people will get immediate relief for their commute and in their wallet."
Doug Ford wants to sink $10B into a highway that won’t cut commute time or take cars off the road—bulldozing our Greenbelt to do it.— Julie Lutete (@JulieLutete) May 2, 2022
More congestion, more pollution, and less greenspace.
After the pandemic ridership is down, gridlock is up. @OntLiberal wants to reverse that. pic.twitter.com/nO4AuLvuWy
The plan is estimated to cost about $710 million in 2022-23 and about $1.1 billion in 2023-24, with an additional $375 million each year earmarked for transit operations — extended service hours, better intercity connections, improved accessibility and the creation of even more routes.
Del Duca made no bones about borrowing the "buck-a" convention from Ford, stating in Monday's release that "the lowest priced beer on the LCBO website is $1.65."
"Unlike Doug Ford's broken promise of 'buck-a-beer,' we will deliver 'buck-a-ride' for all transit riders," said Del Duca, taking a clear shot at the premier, whose own controversial highway plans have been subject to mounting criticism in recent months.
The official 31-day-long campaign period for Ontario's 2022 general election kicks off this Wednesday, May 4, but party leaders started courting votes with big, headline-making platform points weeks ago.
From free prescription birth control and taxes on multiple homes to removing HST from prepared food items under $20, it'll be interesting to see what people vote for this time around — and how much of what we're promised actually comes to fruition.
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