What Should We Do About Fares (3)

Last week, the TTC approved new fares to take effect January 3, 2010.  This scheme represents roughly an 11% increase for adult tokens with proportionate increases in other fares.

Oddly enough, the projected increase in revenue is well under 11% thanks to the estimated loss of riders due to such a big jump in fares.  The idea of a freeze last year may have seemed good at the time (going into a recession), but the consequences of having two years’ worth of increase at one time is the downside.

The Commission overrode staff’s recommended fare scheme and held the Metropass multiple at the same level as in 2009 so that it would rise to $121 rather than $126 (to $111 instead of $116 for subscribers).  In a major new policy, the Commission, reacting to a large and well co-ordinated campaign, removed the age limit for student passes and extended them to post-secondary students effective September 2010.  This will save them $22 off of a regular Metropass.

The Commission also agreed to pursue a target of 60% farebox recovery to bring Toronto’s system to a level closer to other Canadian systems.  What remains to be decided is how that 60% level would be achieved.

Fare policy should never be made in the heat of a budget debate, but nobody seems to want to discuss the issues at any other time.  This brings gains, if any, to the squeakiest wheels, not necessarily the most deserving.

I expect all sorts of ill-will to come my way for saying this, but we hear a lot about the effect of transit fares on “the poor”, whoever they may be today.  Are students “poor”?  In past fare debates, they have been painted by advocates for welfare recipients and the working poor as coddled members of a class who could look forward to substantial incomes.  Yes, some students come from backgrounds of limited means, but does this entitle them to fare discounts?

The poor, those for whom budgeting consists of day-to-day decisions about what they can spend, choose not to buy passes because this would represent a single large outlay and because they are unsure of actually needing a pass for the entire month.  The sad fact is that “the poor” tend to pay single fares, or at best token fares, because that’s what their cash flow permits.

Taking the farebox recovery to 60% is presumed by many to mean “freeze the fares”, but that’s both shortsighted and not necessarily the best policy.  The TTC budget for 2009 was roughly $1.3-billion, and a 10% reduction in fare recoveries represents $130-million of new “expense”.

  • The reduction might be achieved by running more service, changing the standards so that buses and streetcars ran more frequently with more empty space (even seats!).
  • It might be achieved by changing the fare structure.
    • The TTC has already priced the implementation of a time-limited fare (unlimited riding for one fare for two hours) at about $15-million annually.
    • Over a decade ago, the cost of senior/student fares relative to adults was bumped in a revenue grab to stave off a larger adult fare increase.  Should this be reversed?  All in one go, or over a few years?  How much would it cost?
  • As a fare freeze, that might last two years, after which we would be back into a debate about a fare increase at least at the level of inflation.

Better service benefits everyone not just by making the system attractive and improving its political base (without which better subsidies are unlikely), but also by reducing the time wasted by riders trying to get from “A” to “B”.  The time spent waiting for a bus or streetcar to show up can be a significant part of someone’s trip, and unreliability further extends the period a rider must allow for the “routine” delays that may occur. 

Time-limited fares would simplify the entire transfer mechanism (establishing a clear yes/no test for transfer validity), but would also act as a limited-time pass giving people who must make a number of linked, short trips the ability to travel without paying many fares.  (Yes, there are day passes, but they’re not always available when and where you need them, and four fares may be more than you want to pay.)

Adjusting the ratio of senior/student fares to adults would improve the lot, financially, of a group that were treated in the past as cash cows, a captive market that would bear any increase.  There will always be fare increases eventually, but there is also a strong argument for restoring the ratio between adult and the concession fares to historic levels.

Smart cards are mentioned often, but the system should allow someone to qualify for bulk discounts (equivalent to passes) based on their usage history without having to pay for an entire week or month of transit use up front.

If the intention of that 60% target is simply to freeze fares, that’s nothing more than a call for greater subsidies without the riders putting any money into the pot, and it will do nothing to change the quality of transit (or the fare structure).  Two years from now, we will be back in exactly the same place.

If the intention is to have a full debate about how we might adjust fares and service, then that’s worthwhile.  We can talk about investing in transit, in making the system more equitable, in improving service and reliability.  Those are changes where new subsidies provide lasting results for riders, not bandaids to defer real discussion until the next budget crisis.

23 thoughts on “What Should We Do About Fares (3)

  1. A fare roadmap would be a good start. It should outline:

    – When fares will rise over the next 5-10 years (every one year on January 1st, every two years?)
    – What the next two fare increases will be, and the aproximate increases up to 10 years out
    – How often will the roadmap be revisited?
    – New “features” that will be introduced and when – fare by distance, smart cards
    – What are the assumptions (inflation, service levels, service improvements, etc. for the outlying years)
    – What the fare increase will go towards – (inflation, contracts, maintenance)

    I think this would go a long way towards removing the “surprise” that occurs everytime there is a fare increase…it also depoliticizes it, taking the pressure off the politicians (as well as allowing for reasoned debate). It also allows the general public to prepare for the increases (budgeting etc.) and would better inform the public of the reasons behind fare increases. As the TTC is a monopoly there is not really any benefit to hiding this information until the last minute…

    All that said, before anything like this could happen there would need to be a system in place that doesn’t allow for hoarding of tokens, or have the hoarding accounted for in the calculations…as well as some changes to the budgeting process (ie. being able to predict 2 or 3 years out what the needs will be)…


  2. The TTC produces multi-year capital budgets and condominium corporations must have multi-year reserve fund studies so I see no reason why the TTC could not have a multi-year “fare plan” and revise it annually (as they do with the capital budget). You are right that careful thought is not given to fares when they are only discussed in the context of the annual budget. Having a ‘plan’ (even if it needs to be changed) might get both staff and Commissioners thinking of options. (As Steve says, these include the ratio between single fares and passes, the ratio between adult and senior/student fares and the desirability of timed transfers.)


  3. The first part of any discussion on fares is purpose.

    What is the goal of the fare structure? What is goal of the recovery rate?

    Once that’s decided, then we can get to means/method.

    I would argue that the purpose of public transit is to be used. So the first goal is ridership generation. This serves 2 broad social purposes, environmental/air quality and land use.

    I don’t personally see transit service as a ‘social service’ which doesn’t mean I am in any way unsympathetic to the plight of the poor, but rather that jobs, minimum wages, income redistribution programs, affordable tuitions and a long list of other programs are better suited to ameliorating poverty than transit. Which as best, is a partial treatment of 1 symptom.

    Having said that, but running indirectly with one of Steve’s points, not all students are low income, and seniors, broadly speaking, are the wealthiest demographic of Canadian society (certainly not all, but ‘on average’).

    So I’m not at all clear how offering either students or seniors discounts makes sense, in that it helps many middle class and wealthier folks, and that everyone not a toddler or younger always occupies a full seat on a train or a bus.

    Moreover, if you offer that age-based discount and by default penalize the ‘adult’ rider; you A) take income back out of the parent’s pocket that you put back by discounting the student! (most families are 1:1 parent to child ratio these days, and some are 2:1, meaning higher adults fares may actually pose a greater economic penalty if an entire family makes use of transit.)

    In so far as fares are organized, I’d light to keep it simple, 3 and under free (on the premise they can ride in mom/dads lap and not occupy a seat, even if that is rarely the reality); and every other fare is treated identically (by age).

    Now, IF we are prepared to put 130M more into the system (by a 60% farebox recovery goal) I would like to see that mixed between better service and lower fares.

    I don’t have the figures with me to figure out the math, but after adding in for a 2-hour time-based fare.

    If we say put another 50M into fare affordability.

    We could probably get the fare structure to something like:

    $3.00 cash
    $2.25 per token
    $105.50 Metro Pass (46 fare multiple)
    $99.50 Metro Pass (annual purchase)

    Put the rest of the new revenue into the every-10min network, the 20-min minimum service and a few more buses and trains in rush hour.

    Oh and starting Sunday services at 8am.

    ** off topic but ( I finally looked up the transit systems in Montreal, L.A., and Chicago to compare subway closure hours per week, ( I omitted NY for the express track reason) and all show slightly fewer total closed hours than the TTC. And none have late Sunday openings.)


  4. Steve, isn’t the present cost recovery about 75%? I’m all for improved service (and more seating) but extra service does cost money and additional passengers wouldn’t cover the loss since the system would loose roughly 40% average per passenger so more customers would mean greater losses.

    Wouldn’t it? I did flunk math.

    Steve: The TTC’s budget for 2009 is about $1.3-billion, of which $900-million comes from revenue and the rest from subsidy. That’s 69.2%. A small amount of “revenue” isn’t from the farebox (advertising and rental income for example), but that’s part of what counts toward the total.


  5. One seat, one fare – make everyone pay the same. Let the government subsidize different groups through taxes.

    Eliminate the Metro Pass, why should one person’s 50 trips be cheaper than another person’s 50 trips? Especially if you don’t allow hoarding.

    Bring in a smart pass.

    Steve: Almost certainly a smart card will involve some form of volume discount. The question is how you go about pricing it and charging for use. If we’re going to charge everyone the same fare, then I will complain bitterly about paying as much to go from Broadview to Yonge as someone coming from Etobicoke to downtown. Every fare system has some type of subsidy built in. People tend to like the subsidy that favours them. The challenge is to find a formula on which a large number of people can agree.


  6. Steve wrote:
    “…unreliability further extends the period a rider must allow for the “routine” delays that may occur.”

    Kevin’s comment:
    Most employers have this idea that their workers should show up on time. Delay has a huge effect in driving people away from the TTC.

    This is one advantage of cycle commuting. The ability to move rapidly through congestion means bike trips take almost exactly the same amount of time to within seconds.


  7. Wrong question being asked…

    The question is “What should we do about transit expenses?”

    If the federal and provincial governments can’t kick in extra funds for increased ridership, then the model is fubar.

    Here’s what I think should happen:

    Metrolinx should have an operating division.
    Metrolinx should take over Viva, YRT, TTC, MT, OT, etc..all of them, including GO, and brand everything one name. Viva appeals very nicely.
    Cut back on routes and optimize routes. Forget municipal boundaries. Perhaps a proximity/zoning system. i.e. Your starting point gets you x far, with some routes being non-proximity (i.e. express routes).
    Riders cover the operating cost of the system.
    Income taxes covers capital projects.
    Elimination of all ticket handlers. Payment is 100% automated. No tickets, no coins.
    Better customer service – #1 Image to the public – modern uniforms, dress code, #2 Proactiveness – In the subway, LRT, or train, a transit attendant would greet customers, help customers with directions, politely ask customers who are breaking the rules to correct themselves, collect feedback, PROMOTE the cities in the GTA (this could pay for itself if private companies would fork over $ – perhaps funding from the feds/prov to promote libraries, museums, swimming pools, etc).
    With the above, the goal would be to generate enough riders that would actually want to use the system, making use of excess/underutilized capacity, elimination of redundant and irrelavent positions, and happier customers. The revenue would go up and the expenses would go down; breaking even or even making a profit to improve the system faster.

    This province has it entirely ass-backwards. The solution to everything is more revenue. They never look at their expenses. They’re too political and too focused on themselves – i.e. province wrestling with municipalities, and Toronto wrestling with other levels of government. The customer is #2. They need to be #1. Those running the system and managing the strategy should really wake up and realize they need to get off their duff and start doing something that makes a difference without screwing the taxpayers and riders.

    The alternative is they don’t do the above, and jack up fares to $5/$10 ride, and no one will use it. Then they’ll implement tolls on the roads, then people will be forced to use it (kinda scary if you think about it – manipulated economics and governments controlling citizens, rather than efficiencies and citizens controlling government). This would lead to civil upset (people complaining about poor transit, no customer service), and eventually leading people out of the city and to other areas outside Toronto, or Ontario, or even Canada.

    I hope something will change – soon!

    Steve: Metrolinx already has an operating division called GO Transit. Merging in the other systems sounds attractive, but looking at things from Queen’s Park’s perspective, keeping the local operations separate has big advantages. Dalton McGuinty does not want to have to explain why my Queen car was short turned.

    I am not sure that your proposed split of capital and operating funding will actually work because it would require vary large fare increases (none of capital comes from the farebox today) or very large cutbacks in organizations and/or service. On the capital side, the problem is that no government wants to raise income or sales taxes, or any other levy, to pay for the level of transit maintenance and expansion we need and Metrolinx, as a provincial agency, wants to build.

    Private companies are not going to fork over money willingly for anything unless they have some benefit, typically a tax writeoff, which is another way of spending public funds and making a hidden transfer of tax burden from the corporate to the personal sector.

    As for redundant and underused services, there are two separate issues here. Some services do overlap on a regional basis, notably between Mississauga and Toronto, but to the north, the TTC runs a lot of contract services for York Region to avoid forcing people to transfer at Steeles, or for YRT to have to duplicate service within Toronto. Underused services (e.g. off peak service running at policy headways) are a policy decision. If someone wants to start cutting back, I think people would be surprised just how much of an effect ruthless application of a standard would have — chunks of routes and periods of service would vanish everywhere including some rapid transit lines. Be careful what you ask for. Yes, small savings might be made here and there, but to have a significant effect, major cuts would be needed.


  8. The biggest disappointment in the latest fare policy is the failure to raise the Metropass price that extra $5 to $126. In earlier posts Steve has made the case for maintaining the fare multiple at current levels, to encourage ridership. But those calculations ignore the federal tax credit, which applies to the Metropass but not to tokens. Under the new policy, the after tax cost of a Metropass in January 2010 will be $102.85, implying a fare multiple of 41 tokens per month — much lower than the historical multiple of about 50.

    When the federal tax credit was announced I hoped the TTC would be smart (and brave) and raise fares to appropriate some of the tax credit as new funding for operations. It turned out that not only did they not raise prices — but they actually have lost revenues with the credit, since a greater proportion of people now prefer Metropass to tokens! While I agree we should be setting fares to encourage ridership, this seems like going too far.

    On the broader question of where fare policies are going: I am surprised to see no discussion of peak-load pricing in Toronto. If the appropriate smart card technology were in place, it makes sense to me that fares should be lower at offpeak times when “seats are free”. It also makes sense that rush-hour riders should be contributing through higher fares to paying for the additional capacity demands they are helping to create.

    Is there some reason that a little bit of peak load pricing could not work?

    Steve: One can look at peak load pricing in two ways. First off, many people cannot chose when to travel, especially if they have a long commute at least some of which will occur during the “peak” period. Why should they pay more? If I have flexible hours and a 20-minute commute, I can enter the system after 9 am, but if I have a one-hour commute, even a 9:30 start time will require me to begin my journey during the peak. If my job starts at 8:30 no matter what, I canot avoid peak period travel.

    Second, it is precisely the long-haul peak commuter we are trying to get off of the road system both to release capacity there and to reduce the need to drive. A similar discussion applies to fare-by-distance schemes.

    The “extra” rides Metropass users take are generally in the offpeak when, as you say, “seats are free”. Why should pass users be penalized?

    This is a philosophical debate about the role of transit and fares. If transit is seen as a benefit because it improve mobility for a broad range of travellers, then that benefit offsets whatever costs show up as subsidies.


  9. The lack of a clear fare policy from TTC leads to an understanding of why they are so reluctant to embrace Presto. It would make them actually have to think about how to structure their fare system.

    If TTC had been on the ball years ago and implemented their own smart farecard, they would now be leading the other transit agencies rather than being the last on board.

    With Presto being inevitable for TTC, it’s about time they did a full fare review. There are so many ways to implement variable fares with a smart system, such as by distance, by time of day and as mentioned, volume — like full fare at beginning of month, tapering down to lesser fare level as more trips are taken.

    A ‘smart’ fare system could eliminate any need for student or senior fares, if one can assume many such users would ride the system on off-peak hours and could pay off-peak reduced fares.

    And I dispute TTC’s complaint of cost of implementing smart card systems, as all the cost of transporting & counting tokens, printing transfers, maintaining transfer machines, etc, is eliminated. Just take a look at TTC’s recent tenders awarded and the costs just for buying paper transfers.


  10. A large part of the student/senior discount is that they are captive (or at least are more likely to be unable to drive), make more efficient use of the system, (more often use the shoulder hours, middle of the-the-day and weekend service), make shorter trips on average, and are more sensitive to prices (again on average, and yes even accounting for the more wealthy seniors). Given the tradition (not just in Toronto, and not just for transit) getting rid of this particular “subsidy” is simply not an option, though there is certainly room for debate about the exact fare multiple. I’m leery of putting the multiple at historical levels just because, unless there is a more hard rational for a given value. Something to look into: anyone know about the standards in other cities?

    Offering student discounts in particular is a good business plan – think the “low introductory offers” that every service company offers. Of course, you have to back up the offer with quality service for it to work…

    If we think of the TTC as social service competing with the car, there is a lot to be said for making it more “car-like”, particularly in terms of the fare structure. Limited stopover transfer go a long way towards this. Metropass and its daily and weekly equivalents are also important. A very limited fare-by-distance can also be justified from this line of thinking (for example a VERY low cost (25 cents?) fare boundary with minimal barriers, or whatever the smartcard equivalent would be). With Metrolinx and regional integration pressure, this may not be that far off of an issue to consider. How does the cost of implementing time-limited transfer break down? Fewer metropass users, fewer single fares collected?

    Other questions I’m interested in: What are the different types of riders and how do we want to treat them? What is the role of occasional or visiting rider deals such as the two person day-pass on weekends, or free new years service? What if every metropass holder could bring a friend on certain occasions? How complex of a fare system can we handle? I’m guessing that even the simplest fare-by-distance, time-of-day, additional discount plans etc. will lead to major headaches; people will forgoe using the system just because they can’t figure out how much it will cost them. Any concept of a “fair” fare system runs into a brick wall of complexity.

    Certainly a medium-range fare-increase plan sounds like a no-brainer. The only objection I can think of would be the quality of the plan that can be unilaterally superseded by other levels of government, however, I expect that the political fallout of an “unplanned” fare increase wouldn’t be too different from a “no-plan” fare increase.

    Steve: Just for clarity: I am not saying we should return the student/senior multiple to the earlier level, but that this is one of many ways in which we could “spend” our way down to a 60% recovery rate. As you say, we need to understand what types of riders we have and decide how we want to treat them.


  11. I must say I am unconvinced of the economic need for federal funding of TTC operating expenses or those of any other transit system. What is the motivation for someone in Kelowna or Corner Brook to subsidise the price of transit in Toronto? What else will the Federal taxpayer be required to pay for, and at what cost in tripartite agreements and other bureaucratic snafus?

    Capital funding is different because by its nature it creates a direct rather than indirect return for the Federal Government by means of GST (where not refunded, or as a result of spinoff activity not covered by refund), income tax and corporate tax for the contractors.

    The real inequality is where provinces like Quebec receive equalisation from Canada but then subsidise their transit systems to fares below what the provinces who provide that money can afford to.


  12. The web of complexity exists because the TTC is an integral part of of a very complex system involving interactions between over 2 million people and the world beyond the 416.

    As much as some others would like to seperate pricing discussions from poverty discussions and the like, the complexity of this city demands such discussions exist.

    If we ask people what they pay for on a monthly basis, their main expenses are food shelter transportation and entertainment. For those with less income, the working poor, they make choices on all 4 of those daily; however, if they can get the monthly capital together, and given more and more people are being paid on a bi-monthly basis this is happening, they will invest in the cheaper pass.

    The city is stuck with poorly planned areas of poverty within postal codes beyond the downtown core, areas where employment does not exist in the numbers necessary to sustain the communities to be working. The lack of investment in infrastructure over the long haul has meant these areas are more dependent upon the current system to be sustained.

    In a perfect world, fares would be fair to everybody. But, it’s not possible.

    In a perfect world, governments realising there is poverty in the suburbs would work to get jobs in those neighbouhoods. But, as much as they try, and they are trying, they can’t.

    So, we are stuck with imperfectly planned places and an imperfect fare system that subsidises those who live there.

    A Regent Park do-over isn’t possible in much of the city; and the jobs needed by those in the suburban postal codes where poverty exists aren’t as close as they are to the downtown poverty filled zones.

    Unless taxpayers would pay for a massive demolition of mostly privately owned apartment blocks and townhouse complexes in various parts of the city, to be turned into cheap office space with mixed rental housing, transit fares will remain one of the only effective ways the city can make the surbaban poverty zones places affordable.


  13. One of the problems facing transit development is that the boom in the core in the last few years has led to a lot more office space in downtown, which encourages pro-flow commuting. This leads to transit expenses rising since it mandates an increase in absolute operator and vehicle capacity and declining load factors counter-flow and off-peak demonstrated on routes like the 14x Downtown Expresses. Ironically this sort of behaviour is what Toronto Hydro are trying to wean us off with time-of-use pricing.

    There was an article recently noting that the City needs about a quarter of million square feet of office space for various purposes. This approximates to 8 stories of the Bay-Adelaide Centre – not a lot, but would be a good first tenant for a midrise building even assuming no consolidation of other city offices there over time.

    Ideally from a city-building point of view, this would be placed at transit nodes which could be partly or largely served by existing counterflow service like Yonge/Eglinton, Yonge/Finch, Dundas West, Don Mills Station, Islington, Kipling or Kennedy. Because the services are going back with some empty seats anyway, you don’t have to pay a single extra transit operator to fill them or buy a single extra car or bus.

    But there are signs that the vacancy rate is spiking (since the new buildings are not being filled with new businesses but merely ones that used to occupy older buildings).

    The City will almost certainly be leaned on – “don’t spook the market Mr. Mayor” – to take space in these underleased buildings (and thus set the table for another round of building in a few years after that) – not least by their employees who live in the 905 and come in on the GO Trains which are just as capacity-bound. If the City continues to reinforce the downtown as a growth zone without forcing developers to pay the FULL costs – i.e. the amounts required to add capacity such as the DRL and additional PATH corridors – the amount required to subsidise this imbalance will continue to weigh on costs and therefore fares.

    Steve: Actually the City’s office operations are decentralized in part because of the pre-amalgamation history. There are offices in Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke. I know that the City would love to get its hands on the TDSB side of Scarborough Civic Centre, but TDSB has its own real estate issues to sort out first.

    New office space is going up in the core not because the city will be a tenant, but because there is a market demand for it. If you want to see vacant space, go to “downtown North York”.


  14. Could we talk about cutting costs? How about having TO join every other major transit system in the world and having automated fare collection at most stations? In London, Paris, NYC, Berlin you certainly won’t find a manned ticket booth in every station in the system 20 hours a day. And it’s an open question whether every subway train requires two operators. Unfortunately in the TTC nothing can be done here as the ATU has a veto over any operational change that could affect staffing.

    Steve: Actually it is expected that the cost of operating an automated fare collection system will be higher than what is in place now because the technology will be implemented not just in the subway stations, but throughout the system replacing a rather straightforward system. The benefit comes not in labour savings, but in much greater flexibility in how fares are calculated.

    As for one-man trains, the TTC is now implementing a new signal system on the Yonge-University line at a considerable expense with the estimated project completion roughly at the time the Spadina extension opens. They have muttered about one-man trains on a number of occasions. (New signals with ATO capability won’t come on BD until the 2020s.)

    A much more substantial labour change will come on the streetcar, and later Transit City, network with a move to 30m streetcars running as single units on the old system and in trains of up to three cars on the TC lines. This will improve the operator:rider ratio on major lines and allow more people to be carried without additional cost for operators. The TTC will also be looking at longer buses in a few years.


  15. Montreal will announce a 1.75% to 2.25% fare increase, the 13 consecutive year with an increase. The cost of a monthly pass will go up to $70.00 whole dollars. Must be nice to have governments that are willing to pick up a larger part of the tab.


  16. @Mark Dowling – transit needs to be looked at from a performance perspective, not a “fairness” perspective. Large cities need to be performant, and performance comes with a cost. Building the performance is the first part of the equation, but oiling the engine also is required…it doesn’t make much sense to buy a massive engine for a car and then not oil it.

    Another analogy would be putting your kid through college but then not being willing to drive them to the job interview…

    The return on investment occurs when the system works well, not when they get back 5% via GST…the returns of a well functioning system are much larger than the returns from taxes on the money spent. Otherwise we would just improve the economy by paving nunavut…

    Steve: This comment makes absolutely no sense at all. Nowhere do I have any idea of how it makes a city great or provides services. It’s all financial mumbo-jumbo. Sorry, but with a coming mayoral race in which we will hear lots about more efficient government but little by way of inspired city building, this sort of thing is already making me sad about the possible future of my city.

    Cities exist for all of their people, not just the well off, not just the well-connected. Many services are provided at all levels of government at less than cost because collectively we decide that’s the way it should be done. Just look at education and health care, for starters. The “efficiency”, the “benefit” comes by sharing the cost and improving the city, province and country as a whole.


  17. I have a couple of comments about some of the ideas presented here:

    1) Reduced off peak fares: When is the off peak? On Spadina it would be the a.m. rush hour as that is when the service is lightest and the peak would be base service plus weekends. The p.m. rush is better than the a.m. rush but not as frequent as the base service. I know that this line is an anomaly but it is not the only one.

    2) Reduce fares for really short rides: What if the ride is from Bloor Yonge station to Wellseley or College or from Union to Dundas? Both off these scenarios would add riders at the heaviest points in the line. This would require extra service so it should not be at a reduced rates.

    3) One fare for all the GTA: I live in Brampton and this would benefit me but I do not think that it is fair to the residents of the 416 to subsidize me more than they already are because I get a subsidy now every time I ride the TTC. If they are going to have one fare then all the municipalities have to subsidize all service on an equitable basis. However there needs to be some break for people who live near a boundary and need to cross it.

    4) One person’s 50 rides should cost the same as another’s: Cash fares and small purchase of tickets or tokens require someone to sell and or check that the correct fare is paid. A person who buys a pass on a yearly basis gets it mailed to them and it does not have the overhead to service its distribution and use. If we go to smart cards that can be refilled at a machine or on line then that also saves the system money. Should not some of this saving go to the user?

    5) The TTC may be a social service but subsidized fares for special groups should not be part of the TTC’s mandate. If there is a need for this subsidy then it should be provide by another agency. Let the TTC run the transit agency and let some one else provide necessary social services.

    6) The only thing that I can possibly take from George Bell’s 5% GST comment is the fact that the Fed’s take from the GST on transit fares goes up as the fares and the ridership goes up. Does the GST apply to transit fares?

    Steve: Transit fares are GST exempt.

    The motorists who use the road system do not pay for the full cost of building and maintaining it as there are other costs that come from running a road system than the roads.


  18. Sorry Steve, I may not have explained myself as well as I should have.

    I agree that inspired cities/projects work well: they are performant – along with beautiful, smart, easy, integrated. Uninspired cities/projects grind to a halt, cause problems and look awful etc.

    You can see the inspired – with well thought out and designed city services – Bixi, The Green Wave, (hopefully Transit City) – all projects designed to move people around cities better and thought out in terms of the people using them.

    Uninspired projects (Getting Rid of Streetcars/Electric Busses, Building pointless subways to nowhere. etc.) do the opposite.

    I fully agree with all that, but that is not what I was talking about.

    I am talking about taking good inspired projects – Transit City for example, and ruining them by only going the first step – paying for the creation of it. Once a project is built, they need to be maintained, and the federal government (if they are paying to build it) should be paying to maintain it.

    If the country is going to get the benefit of building something, they will only get that benefit if the thing that was built is loved and cared for…by the people who built it.

    I think your comment about all the financial mumbo jumbo is correct (I am not a economist after all). But my point was that the benefit of something is in it being done well and working as expected…not by the amount of tax that can be recovered from it. If we spent more money on making our projects work well, we would have to spend less on projects (see Bloor station this week).


  19. Sorry if this is off topic … but I took a look at that ‘new fares’ link and it said the TTC portion of the GTA weekly pass was going up from $25.30 to $28.00. By my math that would be a $2.70 increase by the TTC. However, the YRT website lists the GTA pass as going up to $52 in 2010 specifically citing the TTC increase. That’s 5 bucks more than the current price. Why the discrepency? Did one of the other GTA transit agencies increase their fares as well?

    With no discount plans, buying 52 passes at $52 bucks a piece is really steep!

    Steve: It’s possible YRT used the original level of price increase for passes the TTC proposed rather than the one they actually adopted.


  20. Seeing that the ‘smartcard’ is being flogged so hard from so many sources that clearly never use transit, a question comes to mind:

    Could the smartcard be used in a ‘Congestion tax’ system, that would impose ‘user pay’ on drivers?

    Just asking.

    Steve: A congestion tax would most easily be implemented by GPS tracking, although this has serious privacy concerns. The smartcard needs to come in fairly close contact with a reader, and this is not practical for cars in traffic.


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