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Children 12 and under to ride GO for free starting March 9

Last Updated Feb 28, 2019 at 12:25 pm EDT

File photo of a GO train. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Steve White

Children aged 12 and under will soon be able to ride GO trains and buses for free.

“As of March 9, all children 12 and under can ride free on GO Transit, just in time for March break,” Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek said at the Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto on Thursday.

“Free travel for kids on GO Transit aligns fares with the TTC and UP Express. This is another step to integrate transit systems and give riders a seamless transit experience.”

Currently, children under five can ride for free on GO Transit while children between the ages of six and 12 receive a discounted fare.

Last year, the transit agency ran a pilot project allowing children 12 and younger to ride for free on its Barrie Line. It found ridership increased by seven per cent on weekdays and 17 per cent on weekends, which resulted in a boost to revenues.

“More parents, more families, travel and that offsets the revenue forgone from not charging kids to travel,” Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster said.

With the new policy, the province said children 12 and under won’t need a Presto card.

Verster downplayed concerns that the new system will lead to an increase in fare evasion, saying the agency has hired a dozen new fare inspectors who will begin work in April.

“Our fare inspectors use judgment and can ask for identification if there’s any concern with the age of an individual,” he said.

The transit agency also said it is working with rideshare companies to offer a “super duper” discount for people travelling to GO stations.