Updated 11:10 pm November 4:
The TTC has confirmed that existing Metropass subscribers will not pay at the new rate until their renewal comes around. For example, if your annual renewal is in June, you will pay at the old rate up to and including the May pass. If your renewal date is January, then you will get the increase as soon as it comes into effect.
New subscriptions are now being taken effective January 2010, and so they will be at the new rate, whatever it winds up being.
TTC staff propose that fares rise effective January 3, 2010.
As expected, the Metropass takes the brunt of the increase. Passholders will see their prices go up 16% on Monthly Discount Plan (MDP) subscription, slightly less otherwise. The token rate will go up only 11.1%.
I am sure that we will hear that 11% figure a lot in the coming weeks even though the primary way adult fares are collected today is by passes. Any politician who tries to duck that 16% figure deserves to be called out for misrepresentation.
This change represents a triumph of the bean counters, who have always hated passes and regard them as a drain on the system, over equitable increase in TTC fares. Reducing the fare multiple (the number of token fares represented by a pass) was an integral part of the Ridership Growth Strategy, and the TTC is now moving backward.
Metropass users are loyal, and those who have subscriptions don’t have the option of changing quickly anyhow. The “elasticity” of this market, as modellers like to say, is quite favourable to the TTC, at least in the short term.
How long into 2010 will it take for staff to tell us that they have still underestimated the use of Metropasses, that the average fare is below their projections, and that for 2011 we must again raise the multiple? After all it started out at 52 for everyone (there was no MDP in 1980). Why not just turn the clock back 30 years?
I have no doubt the Commission will endorse what the staff have proposed. We have been softened up for this announcement for weeks, and the TTC would not issue a press release about it without fair cartainty that the proposal would go through.
There is no question that the TTC needs a fare increase to balance its books. However, there has been no public discussion about changing the long-range policy of bringing the pass price down relative to tokens. What other parts of the Ridership Growth Strategy will we abandon next?
We will get a perfunctory debate at the TTC’s November 17 meeting. There will be much hand-wringing, but in the end I expect the very Commissioners, the “left wing”, are more likely to support their Chair and the staff proposal rather than talk about “fairness” in the fare structure.
Maybe Admiral Adam can explain on his new TV program starting tomorrow night (November 5, 8 pm on CP24) why the TTC will bump Metropass fares so disproportionately. His constituency should be the people, the transit riders, of Toronto, not his management staff.