32 Grenville Street M4Y 1A3



Christopher Greaves

York Regional Transit


Set aside a good half-hour to read through the YRT fares structure.

There is a structure effective January 2014 and an auxiliary structure July 2015. There are fares, and then there are YRT/VIVA fares. There are levels for adults, high school students, seniors and children (or if you prefer “second- and first-childhood”), express, GTA and fare supplements.

There are fares for zones 1 and 2, although a different web page bears a map showing three zones. You can purchase a fare as cash, tickets, or monthly pass. But for GTA only you can purchase only a weekly pass. (you read right: “only” and then “only”). There is “Ride to GO”, occasionally. And then there is Presto.

Moral: See if you can get there by GO, Durham, or Brampton transit instead.

There is a bible of rules and exceptions, amongst them the endearing “Children under one ride free. One child (age 1-5) may ride free with an adult.”. Really! YRT is charging extra for those children under 5 who are mature enough not to be riding with an adult?

Grey text on a blue background is no help, either.

In certain cases you “must pay a 50¢ supplement to board YRT Express services” and at the foot of the rather long pages about hopping on a YRT bus there is the admonition “View the complete list of http://yrt.ca/en/farespasses/resources/FareCategoryDefinitions.pdf "> YRT/Viva fare category definitions .”. Something to do while you are waiting for the bus I suppose.

So how does a retired Senior go about using YRT? Well, armed with my Presto card I could just use that and hope that I’m getting the best deal. Of course, you’ll never know what with switching between GO Transit and YRT and/or transferring within the two-hour (for YRT) limit.

Thought: What happens if you transfer into one city’s two-hour limit system from another city’s three-hour limit system?

“Customers without valid tickets, transfers, PRESTO card or passes may be subject to a fine or criminal charge.” But they don’t say whether you will be thrown off, or under, the bus. Be warned!

“There are no fare boxes on Viva”, so there! You can’t pay-as-you-board. On VIVA buses.

An Adult cash fare in two zones is $5.00; it doesn’t get much worse than that.

A senior’s 10-ticket card works out at $2.00 per ride, but I will have sunk capital into a piece of paper parts of which I may or might not use again.

A Senior-with-Presto (me!) pays $2.00, so forget about the 10-ticket card. Although YRT/VIVA (not sure how that differs from “YRT” and “VIVA”?) comes in at $2.10 and $3.10 for the 1- and 2-zone fares.

You can read more by following these links:-

Prices ; Fare Zones and Supplements ; Proof of Payment and Transfers ; Fares and Passes .

A system that has so many rules offers ample scope for “gaming the system” because the bus-drivers cannot possibly remember or compute all the variations of conditions. I shall lull myself to sleep tonight by dreaming up wicked schemes to jump through loopholes.

A Wikipedia page provides a readable summary of the fare system:-

Christopher Greaves YRT_Presto_FareTable.png

Note that this table shows two zones, but on the same web page we read “York Region Transit's service area is divided into three fare zones”. You could telephone on the day of your travel ...

Also “Passengers may transfer at a GO train station from a GO Transit route to a YRT route and pay the reduced fare with the GO Transit proof of payment.” but note especially that this text specifies a transfer “GO train station” as distinct from a GO bus bus-stop. This exception has, of course, an exception: “...with the Presto card passengers will automatically be assessed the co-fare when transferring from GO Transit to YRT regardless of where the passenger boards the YRT bus.”

Thought: “ ... regardless of where the passenger boards ...”. Does this mean that I can get off the GO Transit, walk one stop, and then board with impunity? Two stops? Ten? How does Presto know, except that I tapped my card in Oshawa an hour ago ...

Here is an example of a specific exception: “Exception: Passengers transferring to a TTC route in York Region from a GO train station may use the Presto Card as GO Transit proof of payment and pay the co-fare in cash.” From which I gather that it would be wise to have a pocket full of coin just in case some extra fare is demanded on boarding a YRT bus. But not, of course, a YRT VIVA bus because “There are no fare boxes on Viva”


We are reminded once again of how disjointed the GTHA/Metrolinx affair is from the Transilean network by the fact that each region (in this case YRT) has its own web pages that describe the System-Wide Presto facility in terms of the Local YRT.

(In the Île de France your Navigo pass entitles you to ride on any public transit vehicle 24/7 with no hedging of bets or special conditions for “Saint-Remy-les-Chevreuse”, “Bures sur Yvette” or “Orsay-Ville” in an area roughly 100 kilometres east-west and 140 kilometres north-south)

Each local system surrounding Toronto takes care to remind you that you cannot use Presto in Toronto. That situation is changing at the TTC’s customary glacial pace, but only at select stations and on specific vehicles on select surface routes in Toronto.

I am reminded that “Presto cards are for individual use only and are non-transferable”, but since my card contains no identifying material, it surely IS transferable to any other senior citizen beloved by me.

The YRT Presto PDF file contradicts the web pages by saying that a Senior travels for $2.00 in zone-1 and for $3.00 in Zone 2. Actually it states “1 zone” and “2 zone” so it’s not clear whether they mean “within 2 adjacent zones” or “within the zone sandwiched between Zone 1 and Zone 2”.

There is, on the PDF form, some strange text that reads “Fill out this form ahead of time to assist in your online Presto card registration”. I’m still trying to work out how a non-editable PDF file can be filled out to help in an online situation.

Just a reminder of how disjointed the Metrolinx Presto system is, a YRT web page states “Load e-purse at GO stations: These locations have limited hours and do not have the capability to load YRT monthly passes.”

Route Numbering

Bless ‘em! YRT sports a Numbering Convention:-

1 to 99

Regular bus routes

200 series

GO Transit Shuttle (excluding Route 224 and 244)

300 series

Express (50 cents extra fare required)

400 series

High School Specials

500 series

Community Bus Routes

Armed with this knowledge I suppose that I can seek out YRT routes that are supposedly Go-Friendly.

Destination YRT

So where might I go in YR?

I can reach Stouffville but I dropped off there for ½ and hour on my way to Uxbridge and there isn’t a lot to see; also the #15 route is reported to be sluggish.,

Most of YRT is essentially an extension of Toronto City; think housing estates and Malls along major roads. I would not anticipate finding “local character” in YR the way I might in, say, Peterborough.

OTOH the VIVA is an express bus that should let me cruise large parts of YR in minimal time, maximizing my use of the Presto transfer. YRT west takes me to a connection with Brampton Transit And VIVA runs from Downsview on the Toronto Transit Commission as well as Finch.

Monday, December 21, 2015

I made use of the YRT three times this day , traveling from Newmarket to Thornhill to Finch Subway Station.

I learned that the YRT is a two-layered system. There are VIVA buses – expresses so to speak, and then there are the local buses.

VIVA buses stop at about every third or fourth bus stop, and you buy your ticket or tap your Presto card BEFORE boarding the VIVA bus; VIVA bus stops are almost all large shelters with electronic gadgetry within; they are unmistakable.

Local buses stop at these VIVA stop and stop also at regular bus stops, which are identified by a pole in the ground. Regular buses have a presto card reader on the bus, so a first-time user (me) is a little confused at first.

YRT, like every civilized transit system (which rules out the TTC) has a 2-hour transfer system so no matter where or how often you tap your Presto card, you ride for two hours on one fare.

In my case the three bus trips(Newmarket to Clark Avenue, Clark to Bathurst, Bathurst to Finch terminal) set me back only ONE YRT fare.

The VIVA BLUE bus had a well-stocked rack of full-size paper bus maps. Ten out of ten to YRT for this; I grabbed a copy for my files.

I was both bitterly disappointed and bitterly cold; none of the YRT buses were heated. I refuse to believe that the YRT buses are NOT equipped with heaters, and I can’t imagine why on a day in mid-December the heat would not be turned on. Were the heaters out-of-service on all three buses? If so, what an amazing co-incidence!


416-993-4953 CPRGreaves@gmail.com

Toronto, Thursday, December 24, 2015 9:51 AM

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