I received the following comment from a student at Ryerson, and thought it would be a good jumping off point for a new thread.
This is more of a question rather than a comment.
I am an Engineering student at Ryerson University working on a report for my Technical Communications class. I chose to write my report on: the inconvenience it is for students commuting from Brampton/Mississauga area, cost wise.
It is financially hard for students to pay for:
- The local transit to get to the GO station.
- The monthly GO pass and
- The TTC fare from Union Station to Dundas.
And not to mention the time that is consumed commuting. I was wondering if these issues have been discussed before with TTC and GO authorities. Would anyone of you know the status of the situation? Are there any documents or online resources that discuss this in detail?
If they have not been discussed before, what are your views on this topic? Any help on your behalf is much appreciated.
There are a number of intertwined issues here.
Fare By Distance vs Flat Fares
In another post (the one with the concluding remarks from the GTA Transit Summit), I raised the question of a flat GTA-wide fare. Another writer pointed out that if the “premium services” like GO Rail continued to charge by distance, this would deter riders who needed to use those links every day. Moreover, this would work against my proposal that GO Rail have an important role in getting people from the outer suburbs to downtown as an alternative to subway construction.
I still haven’t come down on one side or the other of that debate, but remain concerned that fare-by-distance, applied across the entire GTA, will discourage the very people we want to get on the transit system — the long-haul commuters. Conversely, if we don’t run good, well-connected local services within and between the many suburban nodes, the cheaper short-haul fares will be of little good to that potential market.
There’s also the question of whether a “local fare” on whatever system should count everywhere. For example, if you start off on a local bus system to access GO, then the same fare (pass or whatever) should be valid on the TTC. There is a precedent for this in the old days of zone fares in Toronto. If your trip started on a zone 2 bus, connected with the subway, and then continued on a zone 2 bus, the original zone 2 transfer was valid for the third link of the trip.
(As an example, take a bus to Islington Station [which was in zone 2], ride east to Royal York [also in zone 2] and use the Islington bus transfer on the Royal York bus. If we substitute local buses for the two “zone 2” links, and GO Rail for the subway, the situation is identical.)
One hopeful sign on this issue is Mayor Miller’s embrace of the need for a University Student pass. That’s a first step, but more is needed. Much as I hate to sound curmudgeonly, there are a lot of people seeking cheaper fares who are not students. Deciding who “deserves” to get cut rate transit fares and who doesn’t is a difficult political question.
In the trip described by “Mon” above, there are two legs — the local bus and the GO train — where service is typically infrequent and may, or may not, be well-coordinated depending on the nature of the trip and the time of day.
As I and others have written many, many times, service quality is the primary determinant of transit usage. The greatest integrated fare structure in the world will not compensate for the sense that taking transit is a waste of time, unreliable, or both.
An important task for the new GTTA and anyone looking to drop megabucks on the region will be the provision of good and predictable service for a wide variety of trips. If people have to wait 15 minutes for a bus, particularly if this comes from a bad transfer connection, that’s 15 minutes in which they could have been miles away by car.
I think I will end this post here and wait for comments to continue the thread.