09/20/2012 14:20 EDT | Updated 11/20/2012 05:12 EST

TTC, new LRT lines to get united fare structure: Metrolinx

Provincial transit authority Metrolinx is working to allay fears that riders on three new LRT lines in the city will have to pay a different fare than what's charged on the rest of the TTC system.

Metrolinx confirmed in a statement Thursday that it would be seeking a private operator — not the TTC — to build, design and operate three new light rail transit lines on Eglinton Avenue, Sheppard Avenue East and Finch Avenue West.

However, TTC riders will not have to contend with paying a separate fare to use the LRT lines, Metrolinx said.

"The new LRT lines will be fully integrated with the TTC with one fare structure. Customers will have a seamless ride between the LRT, the subway and buses," said the agency.

Metrolinx was responding to a Toronto Star report that raised questions about competing fare structures.

The process to find a private operator, which is being advanced under what is known as alternative financing and procurement (AFP), "will ensure the contractor will build to a high standard and to keep the asset in top condition for years to come," said Metrolinx.

"Under the AFP model, we protect taxpayers by building in strict penalties for any cost and schedule overruns. If the project is late, the private sector pays. If project is over budget, the private sector pays."

The agency hopes to get all three lines up and running by 2020. The province is footing the entire $8.4 billion cost of building the three LRT lines and an additional light rail line to replace the Scarborough RT.