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.
For 2008, the projected revenue (almost entirely fares) for the TTC was $887-million for a ridership base of 466.7-million. That gives an average revenue per trip of $1.90. Note that this stirs together all the fare media and classes of riders including:
- Monthly, weekly and daily passes
- Adults and concession fares
- Token and cash fares
- Other income such as advertising
Worth noting is the average per-trip subsidy of $0.65. That translates to a $303-million subsidy requirement. Any change in subsidy arrangements (higher/lower per trip) must address this very substantial funding line in the TTC’s budget.
In looking at fare-by-distance, we must first determine how much to charge based on current riding habits. This is rather challenging because we do not have average trip length information. Some trips are quite long, others, especially those taken with passes where there is no marginal cost, are extremely short. For the sake of argument, I am going to use Canadian Census commuting information.
The Toronto Census Metropolitan Area (which includes a lot more than Toronto City proper) has a median commuting distance of 9.4 km. The map linked here shows that this value is much higher in the outlying areas and much lower downtown. The median commuting distance for the City itself is only 7.5 km. (The median, as opposed to the average, is the value where half of the commutes are above and half are below.)
If we take these median values as the average trip length (that’s a big leap, but I have to start somewhere), then the revenue per kilometer is $.253 (if we use the Toronto City median) or $.202 (if we use the CMA median). One caveat here is that the distances reported by Statistics Canada are “crow fly” values and the actual commutes will generally be longer. This would tend to lower the revenue per kilometer based an actual trip paths.
That range from 7.5 to 9.4 km is interesting from another point of view. If we draw a circle around Queen and Yonge with an 8 km radius, the east and west boundaries are almost exactly the old Queen line, Neville to Humber. The north boundary is Lawrence Avenue. This area roughly duplicates the old TTC zone 1 which was mainly the pre-amalgamation City of Toronto. In other words, the median commute distance is roughly on the scale of the old City measured outward from downtown.
What this would mean is that on a purely fare-by-distance model, fares would likely be lower within the old zone 1 and higher outside of it. For example, the distance from Queen and Yonge to Steeles is 16.6 km, and a strictly fare-by-distance calculation would expect to receive $3.80 (plus subsidy) from such a trip. Distance to the outer corners of the 416 are even longer. Going north to Richmond Hill adds another 5 km, for a trip that is close to three times the median value. I am quite sure that the residents of Richmond Hill and environs expect to pay one, standard TTC fare to get downtown, not three.
By contrast, the GO Transit fare from Richmond Hill to Union is $4.78 based on a 10-trip ticket, or about $4.30 for a monthly pass. Therefore the revenue GO gets from such a commuter is in the same ballpark as TTC fare revenue redistributed on a distance basis.
I repeat that this is a rough estimate for the purposes of discussion, but it’s a discussion nobody wants us to have. Metrolinx and Queen’s Park buried any questions about revenue tools, and by extension fares, well into the next decade. If there is to be any integration of regional and local systems, the question of fare levels and structures must be addressed.
Fare-by-distance inherently penalizes the long-haul rider. Yes, in theory, they pay the cost of using more service to make their trip, but the larger issue is that this fare may deter them from moving from auto to transit. Many discussions of cross-boundary fare integration have, at their core, an implicit assumption that fares for cross-border riders will go down. This would be true for short commutes, say from the southern 905 into the northern 416, where the trip length is lower than, say, 8km.
However, the long trips would pay more, and fare-by-distance would allow the TTC to charge suburbanites, who have been highly subsidized in their travel to downtown, a fare proportionate to the length of their trip. This is quite likely completely contrary to the planning goals Toronto and Queen’s Park have for moving more people onto transit.
How you collect the money — the technology, the inspection regime — is immaterial to this discussion. I don’t care if the fare card is GO Green or TTC Red, the question is how much I will have to pay to use it. This is the sleeping issue in regional transit integration, and it will be the transit equivalent of road pricing for politicians.
We need to understand and agree first on the nature of GTA fares and the social goals we hope to achieve by increasing transit use. Can we justify a higher subsidy on the basis that the alternatives — driving those who can afford it into cars, and penalizing those who live on the outskirts but must commute by transit — are more expensive than improved subsidies and service?
Once we answer these questions, then we can turn to specifics of the technology. What we don’t need is a razzle-dazzle show that employs armies of consultants and technicians to build a “solution” to what is really a political, policy question.
I have a question on zonal fares on buses and how they could be implemented. At subway stations and even LRT platforms you can have pass/token/etc dispensing machines that give you an ‘x’* that lets you tap in and tap out so you can be tracked and charged appropriately. On buses, if you have an ‘x’ you can be made to tap in and tap out so you can still be tracked.
But what if you do not have an ‘x’ and you want to get on the bus? Do we have to install ‘x’ dispensers at thousands of bus-stops across the system? Unless I’m mistaken paper money and coins are legal tender and must be accepted as a form of payment. If this is the case, how does this work? What would be the cash fare to get on the bus if you don’t know where the rider is going to get off?
* whatever the thing is that tracks where you’ve entered and left the system, whether it be a chip card, a swipe card, some sort of fob or whatever.
Steve: As others have mentioned, there are at least two options: Widespread availability of fares through the machines that dispense parking tags, and better availability through convenience stores.
The GTA should be 3 zones
The 416 area is zone 1
The surrounding suburbs is zone 2. There is a dual-zone area where any zone tickets are valid, which is roughly Finch Avenue up to Hwy 7 in the north.
The third zone is whatever lies beyond the Ontario Greenbelt.
More on my idea for lower fares:
Beyond the “who will pay” problem, are there any other serious problems with adding another fare zone for the 905?
Take the York Region. They have a zone up along Lake Simcoe. A zone down in Newmarket. And a zone down in Thornhill. What if Toronto was “just another zone” requiring “just another dollar”? Of course YRT and the TTC would fight about who should pay the difference, but assuming that problem is somehow dealt with (Say the Greens win the next provincial election) are there any other major problems with this? I think that it would be a fair fare (lol, get it!) for city boundaries to only cost $1 to cross. Thusly a trip from Oshawa to Hamilton on local transit would only cost $5 plus one local fare ($3 or whatever)
Steve: It is more likely that we will have an agreed-upon, workable fare integration than the Green Party will win the next election.
zb’s zones seems about right to me, although defining “beyond the Greenbelt” isn’t always so easy (http://www.greenbelt.ca/sites/ourgreenbelt.ca/files/images/maps/Greenbelt_map.pdf – quite a large file), it’s not quite the clear cordon around GTA the name suggests (and is, IMO, better for it). I’d suggest putting Burlington, Pickering and (maybe) Oakville in the suburban zone, with Oshawa, Burlington & Hamilton and Newmarket (again, maybe – this one seems questionable) all clearly in the outer zone.
I’d also suggest that we might be better off with something like three zones in the city, with an east/west divide around Yonge, plus a seperate CBD zone (south of Bloor I think, harder to locate east and west, but maybe Bathurst or Spadina to Jarvis, or maybe the Don Valley). Adding zone breaks in direct Peel – York and York – Durham travel would then deal with the appearance of hitting Toronto harder than the suburbs.
I prefer the idea someone mentioned of a basic cash fare being two zones plus a smaller additon per zone over zone overlaps, really I think its probably more reasonable to assume longer travel than shorter this point. Some kind of premium charge for GO makes sense to me, and I’d suggest a rebate if you use a smartcard and travel within a single zone (requires tapping in and out, but if we aren’t issuing paper tickets for all travel thats needed anyway), mostly as an incentive to smart card adoption.
I like the sytem Oyster uses with a day’s cash total maxing out at the charge for a day pass, and it shouldn’t be too complicated once everyone is onboard with Presto. As for weekly and monthly passes I think the only real question would be whether a single zone pass should be available. Otherwise they could just follow the model of two zones, plus, with GO being treated like an addon, as the premium expresses are on Metropasses now. As long as the passes are stored on smartcards (or, again, all trips require paper tickets) the number of zone covered by the pass would then be free, with a cash addon for more. I also suspect a zone system along these lines might be easier to implement, since it more or less follows the existing system and municipal boundaries.
As with anything else, the complicated parts are GO fare distribution in an integrated system and subway zone breaks, but at least the subway portion can be pretty easily handled with POP. I also wonder if it might be reasonable to charge something on the order of half a GO premium for subway use (perhaps waived for pass holders)?
So why can’t we (at least temporarily) use the YRT method of zones for the Steeles border? ( http://www.yrt.ca/fares/zones.asp )
If you live south of Highway 7, but north of Finch, you start your trip in a “combined” zone and only pay one fare in either direction (north or south). However, if you start your trip north of 7, and then travel south of Finch, you pay an extra zone fare (in YRT’s case, it’s $1 extra). This eliminates the punishment for living a block north of Steeles and having to travel into Toronto.
Steve: This will deal with specifics of the “cross-border” zone penalty, but it’s only a local fix and won’t address situations such as the Richmond Hill subway rider who expects to pay a “Toronto” fare to ride all the way to the end of the line.
When I wrote this article, my intent was not that we find some magical way to sort out the fare structure, but to show that a fare-by-distance is not the panacea some advocates may think. Any new proposal has to look at the whole system and it must be worked out in detail to see how it would affect costs to riders and subsidy requirements to various governments.
I have an idea. Would it not be possible just to create a higher fare for the portions of the subway extensions that would be outside the city of Toronto? What I mean by this is that instead of paying $2.75 to ride the subway from any point north of Steeles avenue, the TTC should make the fare $3.25 from any point north of Steeles Avenue. This separate fare would in turn only be paid by those entering the subway system from a point north of Steeles, while leaving the fare in the city of Toronto unchanged. This should help ease the costs of running the subway into Richmond hill and Vaughan. I know it sounds like a Zonal fare, but in a way it is.. this way its easier to manage, easier to control than having people pay more on their way out.
I would like to add as well… what about paying your fare when you come in to the station, going SOUTHBOUND and pay your fare (or supplemental fare) as you exit the station, going NORTHBOUND. It makes sense, this way you catch 100% of the people both ways and make them pay the full fare regardless of how they got there. Obviously, this would require some sort of POP i.e transfers or other validation method to prove where the rider got on but it could work.. I say we revert to the old method of Zonal fares like the TTC had for years, for the sections of the subway
Steve: This still depends on a tap in, tap out system. People who only ride “locally” within York Region (say, no further south than Steeles Station) should not have to pay the supplemental fare. The whole point of this discussion is to point out how “one of” approaches to specific parts of the network inevitably cause problems, and we need an overall scheme for determining fares that works for everyone.
Tom West wrote:
“I think it would be better to have a flat fare (say 1$) plus a small amount per minute (say 5c). An hour long trip then costs $7, while a ten minute hop to the shop costs only $1.10.”
This comment encapsulates the regional politics in play here. The fact that there are actually people in the city who do not even contemplate the idea of a 90+ minute commute fuels the ire of suburban residents who feel like transit authorities have consistently left them out in the cold. For Tom’s reference, my commute to downtown from inside the 416 would cost about $10/ride. I fail to see why I would pay the TTC twice as much money to get me to school in 50% more time vs. driving.
I live on southeastern edge of the 416 (near Kingston & Sheppard), an area which is 2 buses and 50 minutes away from Kennedy Station and too distant to be served by LRT. GO service used to be the holy grail of transit in this area, but as the GO’s focus has understandably moved to the 905, rush hour service is now less than half as frequent it was 5 years ago. The train which is fully one half of morning rush hour service to Rouge Hill station has been 8-10 minutes late on every single day since Labour Day, 2008 (yes, I’ve been checking). I keep hearing about GO’s Lakeshore East service improvements, but around here it’s only service reductions and it’s been that way for as long as I’ve been using the service. There must be another Lakeshore line that I don’t know about.
In this relatively affluent area, no one wants a free ride. I am willing to pay twice what I do now ($3.20/ride for a GO student monthly pass) if it means I can get downtown in under an hour, reliably, at any time of day. The fact that despite having to drive over 60km to get downtown during rush hour (a “crow-fly” distance of about 35km), it is still over 30 minutes faster vs. taking the TTC shows the failure of the system.
The point I’m trying to make is that before we ask “how can we provide service to the suburbs at an acceptable cost to the rider” we need to ask “how can we provide service to the suburbs”, because from where I’m standing the cost of a service that doesn’t exist is a moot point.
Tom’s example illustrates this. It would cost $10 for a 90 minute trip – but when it take 90 minutes for a 35km trip, the cost is frankly irrelevant.
Steve: Your examples show how the distance travelled is not the only measure of the “value” of a trip — there is also the frequency and reliability of service as well as the speed and comfort (or lack of it) enroute to your destination. Stirring all of this together in one pot to come up with a “fair” fare system first off depends on what assumptions we make about the value of each component, and then on the complexity of imposing that formula on a system designed around very different assumptions.
For example, if speed of trip is considered most valuable, then GO is a “premium” service and the speed taken to get somewhere should be part of the equation. However, if that train only shows up once an hour (or worse) and not at a reliable time, passengers will spend more time waiting for the train than riding it, and the so-called speed doesn’t exist. This is particularly important for those who access the train as transit riders or pedestrians.
Although GO was built as a regional system, the subway is part of the local transit system and was built to replace, not to supplement the existing surface network. Where subways run, surface options are minimal or nil. If I want to travel along Bloor-Danforth, I have no option but to take the subway west from Broadview, and my options to the east are the infrequent bus services on Mortimer and Cosburn. If the subway were to be considered a “premium” service, I would be paying a supplementary fare simply because the TTC is not designed to provide a good alternative surface route. There’s also the small matter of whether I can even get on the subway westbound at Broadview at certain times, certainly not a “premium” experience.
Underlying this entire discussion is the question of service quality and quantity. At the end of the day, if any fare scheme is intended to be revenue-neutral, then there won’t be a penny more to improve service. All we will accomplish is to redistribute fare revenue pleasing some and harming others. If the total take increases, there may still be fare decreases for some and big increases for others, but if people don’t see a major change in the quality of service, they will not be amused. Moreover, if we need fare increases to improve transit, then politicians should say this clearly rather than sneaking such increases in via a new fare structure. The biggest barrier to better service is, of course, on the capital side where none of the vehicle purchases or infrastructure is funded out of the farebox.
More service, more people riding on transit, will require more spending on both operating and capital accounts. The money either comes from subsidies or from the farebox, and agencies at all levels need to be honest enough to tell people the costs involved. Metrolinx could have done this, but their marching orders were to deep-six any discussion of revenue and funding until well after the next provincial election. Instead, they spent their time drawing lines on maps without explaining to anyone how we would pay for the regional network or for the local service needed to support it.
Then the obvious solution is for the TTC to absorb MT, YRT, etc. and extend the flat fare. Let’s leave GO out of it for now.
I have a simple idea. Assuming for a minute that it was one system. How about introducing a flat fare on all bus LRT and subway for $3. If you take a GO Train it would be $3 for intracity trips within a transit authority’s area, local transit included in the single fare. If you use GO Transit to cross multiple system boundries, you can pay a premium of $1 for each region you cross. Say from Hamilton to Oshawa, You would pay $3 on the bus and get a transfer, then at the Go station you can upgrade your transfer at a machine or ticket office, and with the additional funds you pay you can get to Oshawa and board a DRT bus in Oshawa. In perspective how many regions is that? The Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga, Toronto, and Durham Region. Hence your fare would be $8 local services included. You can maintain the excisting infrastructer in 10 ride ticket systems, and have simple easy to use touch screens to make sure riders get their updated transfers. I know this is shooting from the hip, but I think this can work, without the servere cost overruns of Presto.
But if you use Bus LRT and Subway only, $3 can get you from Hamilton to Oshawa. But who would want to do that? Yes we would need more subsidies, but we are trying to get the most out of each corridore. Most bang out of our infrastructure.
Steve: There’s a teensy-weensy problem here. I buy a Metropass and my effective fare per trip is less than $1.50. Why should my fare go up to subsidize folks in the 905? Your remark that we would need more subsidies is only part of the issue.
Jonathan Cooper Says:
May 21st, 2009 at 10:56 pm
“On the flip side, lower fares for shorter trips could improve the TTC’s cost recovery by filling up empty seats on routes with higher turnover. I am sure it doesn’t cost the TTC $2.55 to take me on the King Car from Church to York in the morning!”
It would cost even more if lot of short distance riders want to make this ride as it is at one of the heaviest points on the line. If extra vehicles are required then it is more expensive. This is why simple fare by distance is not equitable as it does not represent the true cost of providing the service. For this reason I approved of GO’s policy of putting in flat fare increases as it helped balance out the costs.
I am not sure of who pays the subsidy for the TTC but if it is the City of Toronto then I do not believe that they need to make it cheaper for residents of 905, 519 or 705 regions to ride in Toronto. If we are to have a cheaper fare for cross boundary riders then the suburbs should subsidize the TTC fares to cover some of the cost of their citizens riding into 416.
Steve: The city is paying the lion’s share of the operating subsidy with some operating funds coming from Queen’s Park. However, that is not on a reliable, formula basis. It’s important when other levels of government crow about how much they give Toronto to distinguish between capital and operating dollars, and between one-time announcements and entrenched funding programs.
Conversely GO, which I think is subsidized by the province again, should not be providing cheap fares to the residents of the 416 area. GO has a limited capacity, especially at Union Station, and cannot serve as the backbone of fast service with in Toronto except as a premium service. If you want it to provide a cheap service within the city then GO is either going to haul a lot of empty seats across the GTA or it is going to put in a local service within Toronto. It does not have the capacity for either of these at the moment nor do I think it ever will, especially in the rush hour.
Steve: Actually GO is partly funded on the operating side by the municipalities it serves, including Toronto.
If we are to integrate the fare systems of the different regions then they had better be prepared to integrate the subsidy system as well. This is an area in which Metrolinx COULD provide leadership but I have my doubts. All of the ideas expressed have their merits ; however mine is best (right) but until we figure out who is paying the subsidy and how it is going to be divvied up then it all a waste of time. If an integrated fare system goes into effect then it will probably have an Oyster/ Presto type card system to keep track of what routes people are taking and how to split the costs.
May 23rd, 2009 at 10:58 am
“If GO were to offer a less mystified fare structure that allowed a monthly pass to be used over a larger urban area instead of a specific trip, then it would be a convenient add-on to, say, a Metropass. Imagine, if, in addition to my $100 Metropass, I could pay a set amount to take advantage of GO buses within Toronto as well, it would probably be worth it.”
Since over 95% of GO’s rail passengers use Union Station and over 70% of its bus passenger go into the 416 area what is so hard to understand about GO’s pass system. It reflects the needs of 95% of its users. There should be an incentive to people who get off before the 416 area as this would free up seats for a second use and there should also be a fare incentive for reverse peak flow. The only easy way to do this is with a fare card system. The other advantage of a card system unlike a monthly or weekly pass is that you are not penalized if you do not use it for a few days as it will not expire.
Rishi Maharaj Says:
May 25th, 2009 at 10:06 am
“I live on southeastern edge of the 416 (near Kingston & Sheppard), an area which is 2 buses and 50 minutes away from Kennedy Station and too distant to be served by LRT. GO service used to be the holy grail of transit in this area, but as the GO’s focus has understandably moved to the 905, rush hour service is now less than half as frequent it was 5 years ago. The train which is fully one half of morning rush hour service to Rouge Hill station has been 8-10 minutes late on every single day since Labour Day, 2008 (yes, I’ve been checking). I keep hearing about GO’s Lakeshore East service improvements, but around here it’s only service reductions and it’s been that way for as long as I’ve been using the service. There must be another Lakeshore line that I don’t know about.”
You live in the 416 area and GO is still providing as much service as it did in 1967 when it started. Remember that if GO stops all those express trains then it slows down the service for the passengers who come in from farther out. When GO started it carried 2.5 million passenger per year; now it carries 22 times that at over 55 million per year. You had better support the construction of the Scarborough Malvern LRT line as it will give you better service. The lakeshore line that you don’t know about is the part from Pickering to Oshawa that has frequent service, about 6 or 7 trains per hour from Pickering.
Steve Said: There’s a teensy-weensy problem here. I buy a Metropass and my effective fare per trip is less than $1.50. Why should my fare go up to subsidize folks in the 905? Your remark that we would need more subsidies is only part of the issue.
At the risk of sounding like a jerk, and someone rude. The majority of people live outside of the downtown core. It is politically tough with so many people on the inside of the core demanding to pay less for transit because they live right downtown. That is a very ignorant method of looking at it IMO. How many cars come from outside of the core, and the 905 belt? My cousin comes into downtown Toronto from Trenton everyday for work! These people don’t pay Toronto property taxes, so why are they clogging out roads and highways with needless congestion. In fact thats my view for people in the 416 as well. I think it’s time Ontario step in and invest the money needed to maintain and expand all systems and merge into a super system designed to leave the car in the driveway or in the plant. Don’t get me wrong theres a ton of ignorance in the 905 belt, but we have to cater to everyone. If we can increase the model split in the 905, the GTAH as a whole will be better.
Robert Wightman writes:
“….GO….should not be providing cheap fares to the residents of the 416 area. GO has a limited capacity, especially at Union Station, and cannot serve as the backbone of fast service with in Toronto except as a premium service. If you want it to provide a cheap service within the city then GO is either going to haul a lot of empty seats across the GTA or it is going to put in a local service within Toronto. It does not have the capacity for either of these at the moment nor do I think it ever will, especially in the rush hour. ”
There’s plenty of space in the hourly off-peak trains on Lake Shore, especially later in the evening.
If the GO fare from Mimico to Long Branch was the same as a TTC token ($2.10) instead of $3.95, I’d happily take the GO train home after an evening at the Blue Goose, instead of gambling that a Long-Branch-bound car will appear after I’ve taken the (significantly longer) walk to Superior and Lake Shore.
Once the service frequency on Lake Shore is increased, GO will be ignoring a very large potential market if it continues to charge twice-TTC fares for travel within the City of Toronto. The number of empty seats will just increase.
(Now that the weather is better, I just ride my bicycle, which is effectively free and about as fast as the GO train if I include time to, at, and from the stations.)
May 26th, 2009 at 12:16 pm
“There’s plenty of space in the hourly off-peak trains on Lake Shore, especially later in the evening.
“If the GO fare from Mimico to Long Branch was the same as a TTC token ($2.10) instead of $3.95, I’d happily take the GO train home after an evening at the Blue Goose, instead of gambling that a Long-Branch-bound car will appear after I’ve taken the (significantly longer) walk to Superior and Lake Shore.”
This is an incentive based fare to increase usage in the off peak and I have no problem with that. London Transport does it also. Just don’t expect to make the ride in the rush hour for that amount.
Just my two cents: there needs to be some sort of zone fare system in the GTA, and the City of Toronto should be subdivided into several zones because it is just too big. The current fare system (zones follow municipal borders, more or less) is unfair for many reasons: 1. The City of Toronto is just too big to be in all one zone – it spans over 40km from the Mississauga to the Durham boundaries. 2. It penalizes trips which cross municipal boundaries. A trip that doesn’t cross municipal boundaries is much cheaper than one that doesn’t. For instance, Union to Rouge Hill (by TTC) is about the same distance as Union to Mississauga City Centre (by TTC+MT), yet the latter costs about twice as much. Rouge Hill residents are getting a bargain. 3. It penalizes use of GO Transit. GO fares are higher than TTC fares for the same distance, and there is no integration between the two systems. For instance, while Rouge Hill residents who use the 54 Lawrence East get an absolute bargain, those who use GO and transfer to/from TTC are ripped off.
My proposal is to subdivide the entire Toronto area into zones. All modes within a particular zone cost an equal amount, i.e. GO, subway, streetcar and local bus all cost the same amount (with a small exception – see below). Express modes (like GO) should not cost more, because although some might be willing to pay more, many will not and will thus cram into local buses which are inefficient for long distances and expensive to operate. All GO trains and buses, Transit City streetcars and subways would be subject to the zone system and would require “tapping” in and out. Major bus routes (i.e. Lawrence, Finch East…) would be POP, and would also require tapping in and out, and would be provided with some sort of validation machine at stops. However, as an exception, minor bus routes would be exempt from the zone system and operate on a flat fare, integrated with the rest of the system (though transfers to another bus in another zone would require an additional fare) – since most of these only operate within one zone, little revenue would be lost. Presumably passes would cover a certain number of zones, and zone supplements would be available for
As for the issue of low income individuals: Metropasses should be provided to them at little or no cost on a means-tested basis. However, those who can afford it should be expected to pay more when travelling longer distances, as they are making more use of the service.
Fare zones are already “fare by distance” except that the distance increments are very abrupt and exist only for political reasons and are easy to implement using simple accounting. But, as an example already noted, why should a York U student pay double fare to go only one or two stops, just because of passing under a political boundary?
Perhaps an equitable fare by distance would be to start with a base fare (50 cents?) and add some cents per km travelled or stops passed. The distance amount could vary by route (cheapest increment, even zero, for slow bus routes, more for LRT, even more for Subway or GO) and if being ambitious, could rise or fall based on time-of-day.
Distance-based fares are really a taxi-cab-like system, and people are already familiar with that.
Of course, flat-fee passes need to be accommodated and a zone basis would be difficult and should not be used there either. However, maybe the discussion of fares-per-ride is moot if most riders would use monthly passes and would hence bypass the distance issue. For the remaining “non-pass” ridership, maybe it would simpler all-round just to stick with a flat fare everywhere if the numbers are not likely to be significant.
What is the proportion of trips by metropass vs individual token or cash?
Are downtown short trip takers more likely to use a pass and also are more frequent riders, thus negating the “more costly short-trip” argument? Maybe we need to look at total distance travelled per rider in a month, not their average trip distance. One rider taking a few long trips versus lots of short trips, for the same monthly pass cost.
Perhaps the best way to “sell” any fare system would be to offer discounts, rather than add-ons. Example, pay a fixed high fare amount when entering, get some back when exiting, ensures that everyone uses the future farecard on exit. It gives the appearance of getting a rebate for a short distance rather than that of paying more for a long trip.
A comment on the future Yonge extension and relationship to Zones. As there are many park and ride 905 commuters now using Finch, who are expected to park north of Steeles in future, would a higher fare north of Steeles sway more parking to south and leave the Yonge line underutilized to the north?? With all those buses removed from Yonge, driving to Finch might even become easier for them. (unintended consequences abound here)
The Fare by Distance will only work in smaller countries or where transportation system is highly advance (ie Japan). I am not against Fare by Distance if it can improve our commute to work. As a 905 rider, we are only looking for the ride with a seat, cleaner environment, rapid service and an easy route to work. Look at the success example of YRT/ VIVA. The riders are paying $274 ($52/ wk + $0.5 per ride for express service) vs TTC’s current $121 metropass (but long haul, dirty, no seats for 1.5 hours). Unfortunately, there are no options available to riders, as most of our jobs are centralized in downtown core. Sometimes GO train is still not an easy option, I know many people commute on both GO and TTC daily.
PS: I used to drive to 70km one way to work, and that is the same amount of time as my ride 20km one way (and with only minor difference in cost- seriously!!). I guess the government spend more money in paving roads than improving public transit.