Federal government slashes transit tax rebate, adds taxes to Uber rides

Mar 23 2017, 9:24 am

It’s about to get a little more expensive to get around in the city.

Yesterday’s 2017 federal budget includes plenty of good news for Toronto’s transit infrastructure, as well as some not so good news for those using it.

Starting July 1, passengers will no longer be able to claim a 15% tax rebate on their monthly Metropasses, weekly TTC passes, and weekly GTA passes. GO Transit riders will also be affected. And all that on Canada’s birthday – sad!

It’s not an insignificant sum, either – riders currently receive a $21.94 discount on a $146.25 monthly Metropass, which amounts to $263.28 over a year.

All available indications suggest this is not a good move for the TTC.

Yesterday, the TTC announced ridership during the first two months of this year had declined compared to last year, which was already underwhelming. Low ridership in 2016 resulted in a revenue shortfall of approximately $46 million.

With adult Metropasses accounting for almost half of all journeys, slashing the tax break could motivate passengers to find alternative methods of transportation. A 2016 report by the TTC concluded that a 2015 Metropass price increase corresponded with a 3.6 per cent drop in sales.

Now, about that alternative method of transportation. The federal government also announced in its budget that fares for web-based ride-hailing services like Uber will now be subject to GST and HST, as they are for traditional taxis.

Indirectly, that’s a tax on your 2 a.m. burrito stop. Try to enjoy the rest of your week.

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