Queen’s Park Reveals Metrolinx’ Role

My thanks to Peter Miasek who sent me the link to this item on York Region’s website.

Recently, Ontario’s Deputy Minister of Transportation, Bruce McQuaig, wrote to York Region advising on the financial and operational framework for “designated projects” as defined in the recently enacted Metrolinx legislation.  This letter can be found among several pieces of correspondence bundled into one PDF starting on pages 12-16.

I understand that a similar letter went to the City of Toronto, but it has not yet appeared in any public debates, partly because there are so few of them currently.  It is alluded to in a TTC report on Transit City funding.

The scheme begins with a desire by Queen’s Park to bring its books into line with current accepted accounting principles.  What this means, in practice, is that instead of shipping money off to York Region and Toronto, never to be seen again except as part of the Provincial Debt, Ontario will now own the assets purchased with those funds.  Nothing in the letter explains how those portions of projects funded by others such as Ottawa would be treated, nor what would happen with extensions of existing lines owned municipally like the Yonge-University Subway.

The assets would be depreciated over their expected lifetimes and would show up as an offset on the provincial books to the debt raised to fund them.  This is a neat bit of accounting that ignores the fact that an asset only has a real value if you could sell it and recapture your investment, but it keeps the bean counters happy and makes the books look better for the politicians.  To quote the letter:

Through retaining the risks and rewards of asset ownership over regional transportation assets, the Province can best achieve its accounting and financial management objectives.

This, of course, has nothing to do with transit and could equally refer to a hospital, a school or a highway.

There are some fine words about partnerships with the municipal governments coupled with concern about “value-for-money to taxpayers and transit customers”.  Then we get into the details.

Ontario, through Metrolinx, will own and control the Sheppard LRT, Eglinton LRT, Finch LRT, Scarborough RT and VIVA Next Bus Rapid Transit.  Ownership, from an accounting point of view, requires control and this means that Queen’s Park can’t just build the lines, they have to actually appear to manage them rather than effectively ceding them to municipalities via a long-term lease.  This does not prevent Metrolinx from contracting with local agencies for construction, operation and maintenance, but on paper, the lines remain Queen’s Park’s property, and they could be assigned to some other entity if they chose to do so.

Terms of any operating agreement would be set at 75% or less than the expected lifespan of the asset so that, in a worst case scenario, Metrolinx would regain control of a line before it was run into the ground.  A great deal of legal verbiage must be created to define the criteria to which local agencies (or any private entity) will be held by Metrolinx.  This strikes me as an opportunity for a huge bureaucratic waste of time especially if all parties involved are in the public sector.

Metrolinx will define project scope, budgets and schedules, and any changes will require their approval.  Given the total absence of political input from the municipal level to Metrolinx, these discussions will likely happen in private.  Of note is the exclusion for Metrolinx funding of ancilliary upgrades to utilities, streetscaping, etc. that are thought to be add-ons of convenience for a municipality rather than an integral part of a transit project.  It will be interesting to see what standards Metrolinx defines as the “basic” level it will fund, and how much will fall on municipal budgets.

Queen’s Park wants transit riders to “experience the benefits of a regionally integrated and inter-operable system”, and the Presto fare card will be a requirement for all of the designated lines.  In a telling comment, the Deputy Minister states:

 … the Province and Metrolinx will … monitor the evolution of technologies, and will consider how to plan for enhancements and improvements as part of an overall strategy to sustain the Presto electronic fare collection system.

“Evolution” will no doubt include a recognition that this is not a situation where Ontario should develop or adapt a proprietary technology, but should work with internationally recognized electronic payment standards and systems.  The time is long past when Ontario could get away with building “roll your own” systems, and they need to look at the extensive experience in other jurisdictions.

While Metrolinx is working on the benefits of a regional service, they will also need to address the integration of GO Transit fares and service into the wider regional system.  GO, as a separate entity, has remained aloof from regional integration except as it suits them with cost sharing arranements in 905 municipalities.  These arrangements are to GO’s advantage because the joint fares with local operators are much cheaper than the cost and development effects of building more parking at stations.

Finally, Infrastructure Ontario will act on Metrolinx’ behalf for projects that are to use Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP).  This is a variation on a PPP in which the asset may actually be built and held by a private company and leased to Metrolinx.  The accounting fig leaves are thick on the ground here.  One way or another, Ontario borrows money, Metrolinx builds something (or has it built for them), and, likely, the local operating agency contracts to run it.

Lurking under all of this is a clear indication that it is Queen’s Park, not the Metrolinx Board of Directors, who runs the show.  To be fair, it is their money (or more accurately our money), but the opportunities for interference and sheer bureaucratic incompetence are legion.  There’s a reason transit has been in local hands for decades — the Ministry of Transportation hasn’t the first idea how to operate large systems, nor any feeling for the local issues involved.

Metrolinx itself becomes little more than a construction planning and, later, a holding company on the Province’s behalf.  This should not overly tax the skills of the new, non-political Board, for whom all of the important decisions will be made elsewhere.

27 thoughts on “Queen’s Park Reveals Metrolinx’ Role

  1. If Queen’s Park owns the lines, then TTC may not have to cover operation cost and ease off Toronto taxpayers.

    Steve: Don’t hold your breath. It is quite clear that these lines will be part of the local system.

    Of course we can the Presto card installed and maybe offer discounts for short trips. Otherwise, those would have driven or walked instead. It can also be an advantage for regional transit to reduce cost for those crossing the 416/905 border.

    Steve: That cost could be reduced today if only some funding arrangement were set up. Somebody has to pay for it. By the way, the Transit City lines don’t cross the border, and Presto has to be on all routes of all regions to address the cross-border issue. I agree that we should have a better fare arrangement, but as I have written elsewhere, exactly what that should be is more difficult than many people would like to acknowledge. They just say “give us cheaper fares”.

    Maybe the province should operate the line too, allowing possibly more efficient operation compared to the TTC.

    Steve: Queen’s Park doesn’t want to get into the operations business and will instead contract this to the local operators or (probably with huge political fights) to private, non-union companies who will have to be micromanaged to ensure compliance.


  2. “GO, as a separate entity, has remained aloof from regional integration except as it suits them with cost sharing arranements in 905 municipalities. These arrangements are to GO’s advantage because the joint fares with local operators are much cheaper than the cost and development effects of building more parking at stations.”

    Except when there is stimulus money going, of course…

    It’s incredible to me that Ontario wants to be going around owning bits of Toronto streets when the infrastructure crying out for provincial takeover is heavy rail, such as ensuring the future of lines in Sault Ste. Marie and the Ottawa Valley.


  3. Steve, could you tell us what is Presto, and why TTC uses those tokens and metropasses instead of the magnetic swipe cards used in London?

    Steve: Presto is Ontario’s fare card system now in limited use on GO and a few places on connecting local system. The swipe cards in London are not magnetic (that’s what Metropasses are), but a more sophisticated RFID-based medium. The TTC continues with its old system because nobody wants to fund $250-million to upgrade it. Other cities, such as London, have undergone massive retrofits as part of a necessary system upgrade or to simplify an existing complicated fare structure. Toronto does not have this problem. I’m not saying it’s ideal, but it works.

    Please also see other articles in which I have argued that a lot of the work behind Presto and similar proposals has rested more on a big technology consulting and operating contract than on actual needs of the transit system.


  4. So, in total, how many vehicles would be needed to operate the Eglinton LRT.

    Also, and this may be a wild thought, I think there is a missed potential of implementing short feeder routes in certain areas in order to encourage more patronage, that is, if the city is as committed in encouraging people to abandon their cars as much as possible (will we ever return to the days of WWII, when 90%+of the population used public transit, but one could always hope…).

    This may not be as necessary with the Eglinton LRT — the suburban lines may encourage shorter routes running through the subdivisions and connecting with the main line. However, as an example, In point to the area north of Eglinton between roughly Laird and Mt. Pleasant. Would it not make sense to operate some sort of service (peak only, mon-friday only, whatever) to operate from, say, Laird Stn. via Laird, Broadway and Mt. Pleasant (or Yonge) to Mt. Pleasant Stn. (or Eglinton-Yonge Stn.) This could run as a branch of 56 LEASIDE, for example. This is a fairly long distance, even now, to any major local service.

    I have also felt the same, for decades in fact, about service on Fairlawn between Bathurst and Lawrence Stn., and service around Glencairn between Eglinton and Yonge. Yes, these neighborhoods are affluent, and yes, there is service crossing through these areas on Avenue Rd., but it still seems to me that the presence of service would entice enough people to leave their cars at home and use the convenient service to the Subway. Now with more LRT service possibly being built, the more the enticement that this limited local service could provide.
    Just a crazy thought….

    Steve: The fleet size depends on the service design and projected demand at the peak point. If we were designing for 5,000 per hour, that would require about 25 LRVs at 200 people each on average, or say a 5 minute headway of 2-car trains. The trip from Kennedy to the Airport is projected to take about 75 minutes one way, or 150 minutes round trip. If the peak headway were provided over the entire line, that would require 30 trains, or 60 cars plus spares. If some of those trains short-turn, leaving, say a 10 minute headway from Weston to the Airport, the fleet would be slightly smaller.


  5. Sounds like the leasing arrangement the several U.S. transit agencies had with banks with their rolling stock. AIG owned the vehicles and leased them to the transit company, but when AIG got into trouble, the transit company had to pay big time.

    Similar, but different.


  6. “Lurking under all of this is a clear indication that it is Queen’s Park, not the Metrolinx Board of Directors, who runs the show”

    Perhaps not the end of the world right now – but a scary thought when a future government has different ideas.


  7. So let me get this straight: the city is contributing 1/3, the province 1/3 (in most cases) and the feds 1/3 (hopefully…). Yet the province owns the line 100%. Does it plan to take over operation from the TTC as well? (and probably contract it out to some private company, with predictable results).

    Sounds like a gradual Metrolinx takeover of the TTC to me.

    Steve: In the case of Finch, Eglinton and the RT, it is 100% provincial funding. Sheppard is 2/3 provincial and 1/3 federal. There is, of course, the little matter of the existing system including the subway. Queen’s Park is silent on the question of operating subsidies. Coupled with the inevitable rebalancing of revenues through integrated fare structures, we have no idea of how all this will affect service or where the existing municipal contribution to operations will fit in.


  8. Steve, this sounds like the definition of clusterf**ck.

    Steve: I might be more generous, but yes, this is a huge exercise in bureaucratic and political meddling, masquerading as an accounting exercise for taxpayers’ benefit.


  9. Steve said “the opportunities for interference and sheer bureaucratic incompetence are legion.”
    Or imagine if Queens Park hired a management company, say Haliburton or 407 International Inc. what fun we could have.


  10. A little of a nit to pick: Steve said, “VIVA Next Bus Rapid Transit.”

    Steve may have been quoting someting, but “VIVA Next” is a planning agency – they don’t have nor operate bus rapid transit. “Viva” is a separate agency, with offices totally separate from “Viva Next”, also known as the York Region Rapid Transit Corporation.

    Steve: I did not say this. That is a direct quote from the Deputy Minister’s letter on page 2, point 1, paragraph 1. Maybe the DM needs some education in correct terminology.

    As they explain on their blog:

    “York Region operates York Region Transit (YRT) as a local transit service and Viva, which is a rapid transit service. Both services are operated by YRT and work together as one system to provide you with seamless connections to the people you want to see and the places you want to go across all nine municipalities.”

    “As strange as it may seem, the York Region Rapid Transit Corporation is separate from YRT and Viva, and does not operate the service. The York Region Rapid Transit Corporation is responsible for developing the rapid transit plan (vivaNext).”

    Steve: YRRTC was only recently created and is structured specifically to fit into the new Metrolinx business arrangements. Please refer to the following documents on York Region’s website (these reports were adopted by Council on June 25):

    Update on YRRTC Governance

    Appointment of Board of Directors


  11. Re:magentic swipcards… Until the Oyster system came along, London’s passes were magentci strip based, and normal tickets still are. Similarly tickets on the national rail system are magentic strip based, because it is by the far teh cheapest option for single use tickets. RFID-based systems (like Oyster and Presto) onl;y make economic sense when they will be used many times.
    Presto is not a magic solution to all transit’s problems, but it sure as hell makes implmenting an integrated system easier, and also makes is easier to use transit.

    I also think TTC are grossly exagerating the cost of implmenting Presto. TTC has about 2400 buses/streetcars and about 70 subway/RT stations. Call it 2500 places where a Presto reader needs to be installed. If we take that figure of $250 million Steve mentioned, that works out as $100,000 per location, a figure I find simply unbelievable. I think the actual cost would be at most a tenth of that.

    On the accounting issue… if the provicne pays 100% of the cost, why shouldn’t it retain ownership?


  12. Fixed assets are not generally valued on a market value basis. They are valued on being continually useful (to provide or help provide) services into the future. The period of depreciation is a guess (based on various standards) on how long the asset will be useable.

    Showing the depreciation on the Province’s books makes sense since this level of government is probably going to be on the hook for eventually replacing the assets.

    Steve: I agree in principle. However, all this really does is to create a book asset to offset a book debt and improve, on paper, the provincial financial position as compared with simply treating the capital subsidies as current expenditures. There is no difference in the real financial position except that Ontario retains the machinery to sell the asset and recover their investment, assuming that wouldn’t set off a political firestorm.


  13. Tom West: Subway stations will have way more than one reader each. You would probably want 2 on buses as well to allow all-door loading. I imagine the new LRVs already have a provision for readers built-in, and that would be 4 or 5 per LRV. Then on top of that you need the machines that sell and charge the cards. Linking them all together is probably the most expensive part of the system; a supercomputer managing the whole thing.


  14. Karl, also, looking at Oakville Transit’s Phase 1 Presto implementation, their buses are getting two readers. One is a small reader positioned right at the front entrance near the door, and the other is a larger unit with screen for the driver positioned near the farebox. I don’t know whether this is intended to be a standard or whether it is simply an Oakville Transit choice.

    Another cost is networking – all of those machines in subway stations need to be connected to a network so they can communicate, which will mean lots of trenching lines throughout stations. Bus/LRV units will need to have arrangements to dump their data when they are back in the yard as a nightly operation.

    Steve: This picks up on an earlier comment about single fare media. If the system also has to deal with media whose value is consumed in real time, as opposed to a monthly billing cycle, the system has to do all of its tracking on the fly, not in response to data downloaded overnight.

    In this context, it is much simpler to “imprint” a ticket with a timestamp when and where it was first used and keep track of whether it is still valid when presented on subsequent vehicles or for inspection. The complexity of the system depends on the fare structure.


  15. Karl: Granted some places need multiple readers, but I still think TTC are over-estimatineg the cost. Even if every location needs ten readers, that still works out as $10k per reader, which is an order of magnitude more than other systems in the world.

    Actually, the way Presto will work means that a complicated computer system isn’t needed. When you swipe, the only “conversation” is between the reader and the card (it has to be like that, otherwise if wouldn’t work on buses)… the card states user type and last journey (for transfer benefits), and the reader tells the card the fare.

    Sure, once a day data gets downloaded from the reader onto a big database, and updates get sent the other way, but that is not a complicated thing. The idea that there will be some huge central computer dealing with every single card swipe in real time is simply not how it will work.

    Steve: Tell that to the people who are consulting on the system. Also, card swipes become more complex on systems where there are large volume transfer movements that do not pass a bank of card readers — subway stations, for example. Many of the claims made for capabilities of a fare card system require much more intensive tracking of trips than now actually happens. As I have said before, the cost estimate is not the TTC’s, but from consultants who base their estimates on systems elsewhere.

    The underlying problem is that Presto, as originally implemented, is NOT a standard payment card system, and would be obsolete before it was even rolled out. They really need to start over and use standard systems already embraced by the payment card industry.

    Tom added the following in a later comment:

    Bother, I hadn’t seen David Harrison’s post and Steve’s reply when I did my previous post… [feel free to merge these two comments Steve].

    Presto is a “electronic wallet” system, which means the card knows how much credit is on it at any give instant. when you swipe, the value on the card gets reduced accordingly. The central computer does not keep track of the value of every card in real time. (I expect some checks will go on, to make sure you haven’t added money onto the card in some illegal way). Hence the requirements of any data links are quite light.

    Steve: The “electronic wallet” model does not work for systems that will have complex zone and discount structures that can only be figured out once complete trips are “known” to the system. For example, if I make a trip involving three vehicles, if each one decides to deduct its own fare from my card, I will be overcharged. Yes, this could be corrected later, but meanwhile a card I thought had value on it turns out to be bogus.

    In order to know how much to deduct in a fare by distance system, a “swipe out” is mandatory for every trip. On GO, this is fairly easy to implement, but things get much more complex in a big regional system with many routes and paths through the network.

    Also, as I said above, Presto is not compatible with other payment systems — credit cards, PDAs — and this is pretty much a mandatory requirement for any newly implemented system. There is no excuse for building a new system without this capability.


  16. Steve, the fare cards absolutely will track your expenses as you ride, but there will be a reconciliation against information recorded by the readers. The latter will not only provide security but will also provide operators will detailed information on fares collected per route and time of day but it will allow the onboard Presto readers to be offloaded.

    Steve: See my previous comment in this thread. Much depends on the fare structure the onboard (and in station) systems are expected to manage on the fly. Everyone talks about technology. Nobody wants to talk about the policy implications of fare structures. We need to know how these would interact, and the capabilities/restrictions inherent in any proposed system. If you want “A”, then you must buy “B”.


  17. I believe it is time for the GTA to split from Ontario and create our own province. Hamilton can come with us if they want. All the finances around transit would be so much simpler.

    Some may say that the GTA province idea is silly, but I think it is much more sane than what the Ontario govt is doing here…

    Just crazy…

    Steve: And the seat of government will be Casa Loma.


  18. Steve wrote, “In this context, it is much simpler to “imprint” a ticket with a timestamp when and where it was first used and keep track of whether it is still valid when presented on subsequent vehicles or for inspection.”

    To some degree, that is true. The YRT/VIVA experience has one little flaw, which is a maintenance issue: worn ink ribbons!

    One YRT driver was telling me how some of the cancellation printing when riders use a VIVA station to validate their fare can be incredibly difficult to read. The tickets have a magnetic stripe that is used read-only because the cancellation equipment only checks if it is a real ticket and does not write an expiry time on the magnetic stripe, so it is up to the printing to relay that information.

    In Minneapolis, single fares use a similar magnetic card, but it has the expiry time written onto the magnetic track at time of validation. When boarding a bus, one simply inserts it into a reader as they board and if it has expired, the unit beeps to inform the driver that you must pay a fare.

    Melbourne also uses magnetic fare card media. When you validate it, it print a visible expiry time on the card, but also writes on the track. If you can’t read the printing, you can insert the card into a validator and the unit will display the expiry time for you.

    Steve: By “imprint” I meant record in whatever storage medium is on the card, not actually print with ink. Sorry for confusing the issue. Your examples from Melbourne and Minneapolis are important for their simplicity — the fare has an expiry time, and nothing more is needed to determine whether it is still valid.


  19. If we install the Presto system on the new streetcars and LRT, wouldn’t we technically need it in the whole TTC as well? The TTC needs to know who paid. Unless they are issued a paper transfer to them. The Hong Kong system doesn’t do that, so the Presto card system shouldn’t do either in the long run. Then again, only the Hong Kong LRT system paid by zones traveled would allow transfers.

    I can picture turnstiles installed on LRT to subway connectors. Including current build station like Spadina car at Spadina Station.

    Steve: Depending on the technology, “turnstiles” in the sense we think of them, may not be needed. This requires RFID interfaces that are a bit less demanding in terms of passenger interaction.

    The big policy issue really is how to divvy up the pot of money all of the separate transit systems will collect. This discussion has been absent throughout all the brave talk of new “seamless” fare systems. It all starts with a simple premise: If we are going to give everyone a fare no higher than they pay today, and some will ride more cheaply, then someone has to pay the added subsidy. If we are going to simply rebalance existing revenues by changing how we charge for each trip, then necessarily some trips will cost more and some will cost less. People who ride a short distance across a current zone boundary may save, but others will have to pay to make up the balance. There are many possible fare structures as have been discussed in other threads here, but the policy decision of which would be used is never addressed.

    I am fed up with hearing about the poor people who pay two fares to travel from Highway 7 to Finch, when this is only one of many possible scenarios in a regional system. When we start talking about people riding from Richmond Hill to Union on a single subway fare, then I might believe that the discussion is more than a convenient way to knock the TTC.


  20. I’d have to see how the overall number are used and presented. If I remember, the TTC financial statements show depreciation and ‘amortization of capital contribution’ virtually offsetting each other each year – which masks the size of the depreciation of assets that must at some point be replaced.

    Steve: In past years, the TTC has only shown depreciation for the assets which it paid for out of its own money, not the capital contributions from others. With changes to GAAP for public agencies, it will be interesting to see how/if they start to handle the capital account. Two accounting problems remain. First, the depreciated asset will be replaced at a much higher cost than the original. Second, unless we start merging capital charges into the operating budget, the whole point of “depreciation” is really meaningless because assets are not paid for with operating funds.


  21. Steve, I believe London’s Oyster card operates as a stored-value card — card readers on buses manipulate data on the card, but don’t have a live link to a central database. Even so, it offers an advanced pay-as-you-go scheme, where you’re charged per ride but the maximum charge is the cost of a day pass for the zones through which you’ve travelled.

    Yet more proof that someone else has already solved most of the technical problems Presto will face…


  22. Steve said: The “electronic wallet” model does not work for systems that will have complex zone and discount structures that can only be figured out once complete trips are “known” to the system. For example, if I make a trip involving three vehicles, if each one decides to deduct its own fare from my card, I will be overcharged.

    There are two issues here.

    1) The amount you should pay depends on how long you remain on the vehicle (e.g., GO buses, GO trains, many TRY bus routes). Those systems have to have a tap-on/tap-off system in order to charge you the correct amount. Note that the reader only needs to know about fares for the bus its on.

    2) You potentially pay less (or nothing) if your previous trip meets certain criteria (i.e. transfers, co-fares). This requires the card to hold details of your previous trip (maybe more?). Then the reader checks to see if your previous trip entitles you to a free/reduced fare. For example, if you hop on a Durham bus and your previous trip was on a Durham bus and you’re not going the other way, then you get a “transfer” and pay nothing. Likewise, if your previous trip was on a GO Train, you’d pay the reduced fare. Again, a reader only needs to know about the rules for travel on its own system.


  23. “I can picture turnstiles installed on LRT to subway connectors. Including current build station like Spadina car at Spadina Station.

    Steve: Depending on the technology, “turnstiles” in the sense we think of them, may not be needed. This requires RFID interfaces that are a bit less demanding in terms of passenger interaction.”

    Turnstiles as a whole are not as much an impediment as one may think, their only drawback of course is the cost of installing them. But the thing is in alot of Asian systems (with very high rideship), for example in Shanghai, all access to a subway is through turnstiles (reversable in direction) with a touch-RFID card. This is in effect much like our current subway gates today (except one must also touch out), and there’s no reason why this would be difficult to implement. Single riders who go throuh the “farebooth” would be issued a card that is recycled at the exit gate, and a paper transfer for POP routes/buses can be easilty issued by the machine for the customer.

    Steve: The biggest problem with a retrofit at a location like Spadina Station is that the existing platform space is totally consumed by pedestrian traffic, queues, etc. Adding entry gates of any kind would be a nightmare. Stations were, in general, not designed with this sort of thing in mind.

    “Steve said: I am fed up with hearing about the poor people who pay two fares to travel from Highway 7 to Finch, when this is only one of many possible scenarios in a regional system.”

    Actually that’s not true even now, as one can use a YRT fare to get from Don Mills Station or Downsview to York region. This kind of overlap is beneficial. Plus, the Star recently ran an article which said the TTC and Viva have worked out an agreement for TTC passengers (with passes) to take Viva Orange to/from York Univ without paying a fare. TTC then pays around 50 cents to Viva per passenger carried. I guess this is a step forward to cooperation…. maybe?

    Steve: Yes, this is a start. However, that cross-border fare issue has been used to flog the TTC for years while York Region plans subway lines that will be part of the “TTC” fare zone. It’s a double standard exploited for political benefit.


  24. Tom West says: “Similarly tickets on the national rail system are magentic strip based, because it is by the far the cheapest option for single use tickets. RFID-based systems (like Oyster and Presto) only make economic sense when they will be used many times.”

    The Seoul Metro uses RFID single-use tickets. You pay a 500 won deposit when you get your ticket (about 50 cents; typical fares are in the 1200-1500 won range). Later, you get the deposit back when you return the ticket to one of many refund machines at subway exits (I assume the ticket is reused). It works pretty well from what I could see.


  25. Re Andrew and single-use RFID tickets…. they still get used many times – just by different people. The deposit suggests there is a non-trival cost, although it’s probably less than the deposit in help enoucrage recycling. Also, the Seoul Metro has about 300 stations versus around 3000 for the UK’s national rail system.


  26. I can’t see how reusable RFID tokens would work on buses – where would you deposit the token to get your deposit back? Putting a machine that does this on every bus would be impractical. This system only works on subways, magnetic tickets would be required on our mixed system.


  27. I have concerns about any system that relies heavily on stored data that must be transmitted and compared to calculate your fare, especially when that information is not viewable or charged at the point of boarding. Missing data is inevitable and could result in the maximum daily fare charged when not valid or something similar, a fact you’ll discover far too long after the occurance to do anything about it. It also could lead to the very tempting idea by transit companies of charging more for individual trip legs and higher fares overall because people tend to spend more when they don’t see the direct flow of cash or ticket/token at the point and time of use.


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