TTC Riding Continues to Climb

The TTC monthly report of ridership and budget performance tells us that riding is up 3.8% over last year and 2% over budget.  Total riding for 2007 is now projected at 462-million.

However, much of this growth has come through increased Metropass usage, and the average fare has actually fallen by 3.6 cents as the “free” additional Metropass trips dilute the overall revenue.  As a result, there is no change in the projected total revenue for the year.

This year, we passed an important point in the evolution of fares on the TTC — over half of the adult fares are now paid by Metropass rather than by tickets, tokens or cash.  This has strong implications for ridership because the “free” extra rides a pass offers cement a rider’s choice of the TTC for their travel.  Moreover, proposals to implement any new fare system must meet the Metropass test for simplicity and cost.

The TTC plans service improvements and better loading standards for fall 2007, and details of this will probably appear soon given the lead time for implementing schedule changes.  With better service will come more riding.  Let’s hope that Council is prepared to pay for more improvements in years to come.

10 thoughts on “TTC Riding Continues to Climb

  1. The other implication of this is surely that offpeak and weekend services will attract the majority of the higher ridership, since riders transferring from tokens to passes and making extra rides will probably be in the main existing peak commuters. Are there any routes that currently exceed loading standards in the off peak?

    Steve: Yes. There is a backlog of services that should be improved to meet the standards. I hope to get an updated list next week from the TTC.


  2. The increased ridership is readily apparent whenever you ride the Queen Car. Reliability is still poor, but when the car arrives it is always Standing Room Only. My anecdotal observation at the farebox suggests that the “pass” customers are significantly in excess of 50% on the streetcat routes. These are the transit committed citizens and I would not be surprised if the pass per centage was closer to 65 or 70%. However, the poor service is still a disincentive.

    I don’t use the pass to commute to work (I telecommute and drive) and only have a pass to “enjoy the city”. Tonight, it took me 45 minutes to get from Ossington and Dundas to just east of Bathurst on Queen. If I had known about the 20 minute headway on the Ossington bus and the 15 minute (at least) headway on Queen, I could have walked faster.

    It is imperative that our politicians – and the TTC – realise that the increased ridership is beneficial to our society and make sure the service is adequate to help it grow. To date, as a dedicated transit supporter, all I have seen from the TTC is a “Ridership Shrinkage Strategy”. That is not what the Mayor promised.


  3. Since the growth is in Metropass based trips is it safe to assume that most of the new trips are during off-peak periods?

    Steve: For the most part, yes. Also, there is some surplus capacity off-peak and although headways are wider, there is some headroom for attracting more passengers at next to no marginal cost in the short term.


  4. I think the TTC should not discount at the farebox — same with DRT.

    Do not discount cash fares paid by the occasional senior or student that can buy tokens or tickets.

    Regular riders will buy the pass and regular riders are who should be rewarded with savings for loyalty.

    $2.75 all across the board and that makes the Passes and tokens with their reduced prices the way to go.

    They are ignoring a revenue stream.

    Steve: Please see my reply to another comment regarding discount fares. There is not a vast amount of money to be made by sticking it to students and seniors, and a huge political price to pay. We give discounts to these riders as a matter of policy and have done so for all of the TTC’s history.

    I am really dismayed by people who are willing to treat those who get discount fares as a market to be exploited — screw ’em, they can pay more. This sort of thinking led the TTC to raise discount fares disproportionately to adult fares some years ago on the basis that these were captive riders who would not desert the system. Never mind the message it sent.

    That was fallout from the tender Mike Harris years, and we are well rid of it.


  5. Since the TTC’s revenue isn’t increasing significantly, could they possibly increase parking fees to generate the needed funds for the proposed streetcar plan I read about in the Transit City report. This streetcar plan is the most sensible transit plan I have read and hope it comes to fruition. Toronto just needs lots of federal, provincial and municipal funding to implement. This increase parking revenue might be one way to get the finances at the municipal level since it looks like the fares won’t generate this needed income.

    Steve: The total revenue from commuter parking for 2006 was only $2.5-million per year. If we stop giving it away to Metropass holders, we would get some new revenue, but past experience tells us we will also lose a lot of customers. There would have to be a huge increase in parking fees to generate enough revenue to pay for Transit City.


  6. I don’t think that charging for parking would cause a significant decrease in Metropass ridership if free parking for Metropass holders were eliminated only at peak times (weekdays when entering from 6am-5pm, for example). This is because the Metropass parking lots fill up quickly and free parking is not attractive when it is not available.

    There are privately owned pay parking lots near the TTC lots in many locations, which shows many people are willing to pay for parking near subway stations. If the TTC charged for parking, enough people would decide to take the bus that there would be parking available for people who are willing to pay. Parking would still be so much more expensive downtown that few existing Metropass customers would decide to drive downtown.

    Steve: There are two linked issues here. First, if anyone thinks we will solve the TTC’s budget woes with parking fees, they are mistaken. As I said elsewhere, the total parking revenue today is about $2.4-million, less than 3% of the total cost of operating the TTC.

    Personally, I have problems with giving motorists free parking since I don’t own a car, but look on this as a trade-off for getting them onto the transit system. As long as the TTC doesn’t stop concentrating on transit service and turn into a parking lot company, we’re ok.


  7. Steve

    I ride on the Spadina carline quite often. Over the last few years I believe the passenger load just gets heavier and heavier. At one time, south of King and along Queens Quay was rather light in passenger traffic, but now I find this area it getting quite heavy. I think the Spadina line would be a good candidate for MU trains, but this operation would not be too effective in the present loop configuration at each end of the line. I have seen cars bypassing stops for passenger pick-up because they are so full!

    Note: If MU operation ever was adopted on this line I’m sure the cars would require some type of guard or barrier between the coupled cars to stop the people from crossing the tracks between the cars!

    Steve: This is a good example of the strength of LRT — we are running more service, we have the capacity to handle more riders, and people are actually using the line. A successful transit line? What a scandal!


  8. The senior pass rate for TTC however I feel is to high that is a shame.

    I do not want the impression I want to screw them at all. I guess my mindset is the one that use the system as their main mode of transportation should be able to have their pass and token costs not subject to regular increases.

    My mother on the other hand that travels into the city periodically and does not even live there and is a senior gets a reduced rate, most times she will buy some tokens and keep them in her purse for her trips.

    I am the last person to want to stick it to anyone.

    I know Parking is also a catch 22, charge them for parking and loose them as riders.

    Nobody is every going to be happy 100% of the time.

    I wonder why YRT and the others then decided to go that route then.

    My views are never set in stone. I have changed my mind when I hear a variety of opinions and conclude that I did not have all the information at my disposal.

    Tell me I am wrong but don’t tell me I am heartless.

    Steve: I was trying to respond to an attitude I heard a lot during the Harris years that treated people who got discounted fares as second class riders, as well as a hint that their discount can be sacrified on the altar of technology.

    Having worked in IT all my life, I can tell you that when someone says that users have to change to fit the system, the fault often lies with the system’s limitations, or with the skills (or lack thereof) of the designers.


  9. I know this is really pushing it. But it would be nice for the METROPASS to act like a GROUP/FAMILY pass on weekends.
    Translink in Vancouver does this, where monthy passes turn into FAMILY passes on weekends. It is a great way to attract families to transit and leave the car at home.

    This is great news. I know it is often said the METROPASS is to expensive. But really, $3.21 a day for access to the entire TTC system is a steal if you think about it. I have no problem paying for it, considering even with our complaining the TTC operates a very good service.


  10. In Ireland, seniors get *free* travel on State run service but the State pays the operators a separate “Public Service Obligation” subsidy for this. It used to be that seniors could only travel offpeak but this has been rescinded.

    As for the Metropass parking – make them buy an Express sticker. TTC gets more revenue ($30/month) which adds zero extra collection costs a toll would entail. $1.50 per working day is hardly penal.


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