In the thread about new streetcars, part of the discussion turned on the question of fare collection. I’ve been thinking about this for a while and planned to write about this topic, but when I actually started, realized that there’s more here than will fit in one article.
One major topic in all discussions is the question of flat fares versus fare-by-distance, and this inevitably gets pulled into questions about “equality” in the way that we price transit so that riders are not penalized by things like zone boundaries and operator service territories. However, any fare system brings its own benefits and problems. We may solve problems for one group of riders, and create a new set of problems for others.
This article considers fare-by-distance by analogy to the existing TTC system. It is intended as a “back of the envelope” calculation to give readers a general sense of the numbers and is not intended to be a prescription for any particular implementation. What is important is that anyone talking about fare structures cannot simply wish away problems of any system by saying “everything will be fixed with Presto!” or similar, simplistic bilge. Continue reading