Another set of comments from the backlog:
Alex S. writes:
The only pre-paid bus service right now that this post describes is Viva in York region. You have stations every so often where you buy your tickets and board anywhere on the bus. I think that this would be to costly to implement system wide, especially in Toronto. If this kind of thing did happen, I would imagine it would only be on high density routes.
Steve: One of the things that bothers me a lot about the purveyors of various ticketing and smartcard technologies is that the main goal seems to be to sell a lot of hardware. Viva, as a bus service, was funded at a level most transit systems only dream of. They could afford to buy and install all of this equipment, and I’m sure that someone had, in the back of their mind, the idea that these might evolve into more general purpose systems. That is certainly the intent behind various stored value smartcard media.
My feeling about this is that the transit systems provide a ready-made market for the banking industry, and that industry should bear the cost of outfitting any system. Indeed, if the smart card account were cross-linked to your bank account, you should be able to go to a bank machine to load up value on the card. The TTC doesn’t print its own currency for use by riders, and there’s no reason it or any other system should bear the full cost of installing and maintaining ticket vending equipment.
Hi Steve, can you comment on the subject of purchasing metropasses? Every month end we witness lines of passengers snaking around collector booths waiting to buy a metropass. I live near Broadview, and the collector often runs out of passes, forcing me to have to travel out of my way to other stations to obtain a pass. This is most frustrating and inefficient.
Why can’t the TTC come up with an easier solution to obtaining a metropass? If you can buy tokens from vending machines why do metropass users have to line up or ride the subway desperately looking for stations that have them in stock?
If they want us to use them, it sure doesn’t look like it. The current system is stuck in the 70s. Will the proposed smart card bring us into the 21st century and remove the dreaded month end metropass headache?
Steve: I too live near Broadview Station and see the month-end lineups to buy passes. As a subscriber to the monthly discount plan, I get my pass in the mail which is quite handy, but obviously not every rider wants to buy a pass every month. [Mind you, now that they are both transferrable and tax deductible, the argument that someone might be on vacation for half a month doesn’t hold up as well as it used to.]
TTC management never liked the Metropass. It was shoved down their throats by the Commission in 1980 when the “it won’t work here” argument disintegrated with Hamilton’s introduction of a pass. I think that it suits some people in the TTC just fine to run out of passes because it limits the “loss” they perceive these passes to represent.
When we move to smart cards, watch for these same bean counters to cook up a fare system that creates a substantial fare increase for frequent users. We will have to fight it and we will win, but the forces of darkness will never stop trying to undo the benefits of flat-rate fare structures.
We have a weekly pass, a day pass that’s good all day, and a transferrable Metropass thanks to Commissioners like the embattled Howard Moscoe leading the charge.