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Feds Announce Tax Credit For Transit Riders

In recent years, riding public transit in the Greater Toronto Area’s only grown more expensive.

But now, in an effort to expand its customer base rather than diminish it, the Toronto Transit Commission is finally trying to give something back with the help of the federal government.

On Saturday, the feds announced a tax credit for those that Ride The Rocket courtesy of a monthly or yearly “Metropass.” In other words, the government’s willing to make a financial commitment to those willing to commit to their transportation systems.

Federal Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty announced the details of the 15.25 per cent credit Wednesday at a Richmond Hill bus station.

“Gridlock has become one of the most pressing issues across the Greater Toronto Area,” he told a crowd of reporters.

“Traffic congestion is getting progressively worse … this is an important initiative that will make public transit more affordable, giving people even more incentive to take public transit.”

The credit applies to passes bought after June 30, and will climb to 15.5 per cent next year. To claim the refund, users will have to file receipts and their passes with their 2006 tax return. But they may have a good reason to do so – for those that invest in Metropasses, the savings could amount to $180 a year.

Commuters can also claim for more than one method of public transit and the credit is transferable, meaning people can make claims on behalf of spouses and children under 19.

As for the Harper government, it’s estimated the tax credit will cost the federal treasury $150 million per year.

However not everybody’s excited about the news, or thinks that’s enough. Several environmentalists have criticized the credit, saying it’s too little to inspire motorists to step away from their vehicles.