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Changes to paying your way

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Whether you prefer to buy passes, tickets, tokens or use cash, changes are coming to the way we pay to ride.





From “smart” cards and tax credits to new ticket prices, here are some highlights:





The province has not yet unveiled the name of its promised fare card, but the pilot project for 500 commuters is to begin in July. The initial test will be expanded through fall and winter and the card may be available across the GTA next year.





This may help those who use more than one system and it will simplify GO Transit’s crazy zone fares. However the TTC is reluctant to take part, and rightly so. Multi-millions of dollars for a new fare system would be better spent on adding service.





Many commuters are aware they can claim a 15.5% federal tax credit against the cost of monthly passes, but few know that weekly passes are eligible too — as long as you buy at least four in a row.





This particularly affects many who can’t come up with 80 to 100 dollars once a month, as well as buyers of the existing low-tech GTA pass sold by TTC and 905 agencies.





The federal Conservative government has not publicized this change, and details vary widely on local transit websites.





Even Ottawa’s official site www.transitpass.cahas little on the weekly option. Posters at TTC collector booths and the TTC website say nothing on this topic, but if you want to know more there is a link to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) via www.ttc.ca.





The tax credit announcement came in March, and was back-dated to January 2007 — except the TTC’s week passes will not have the price printed on them until early June — a key requirement of the CRA.





TTC market research director Mike Anders says Ottawa did not consult with transit agencies about the change, adding, “The TTC recognizes there may be some issues associated with people retroactively keeping their passes … prior to this point (and/or) prior to March. TTC will continue to have discussions with CRA to try and work out a mutually agreeable approach for 2007 weekly and GTA passes.”





More fare changes: Some 905 transit systems now charge a single cash fare for everyone, which means that seniors and students must buy tickets or a pass to get any discount.





Another trend may be pushing riders toward passes by narrowing the discount of buying five or ten tickets — the price per ticket could work out close to the cash fare.



transit@eddrass.com


 
 
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