Updated on September 24, 2015 at 1:45 pm: The TTC has clarified a few points about its table of fare policies. The text of this article was updated to reflect this.
At its meeting on September 28, 2015, the TTC Board will receive a staff presentation on the principles to be used for evaluation of possible fare systems. At this point, specific changes to fares are not up for debate, but staff seek direction from the Board on where to focus their analytical efforts.
An important table comparing fare options across the GTHA is included in the report. Pass-based fares including the monthly discount program fall into a separate category of “loyalty programs”.
This chart drives home the fact that 2 hour time-based transfers are common in the GTHA while distance-based or zone-based fares are comparatively rare. Such a chart should have been part of the recent Metrolinx Fare Integration report, but it was not, potentially misleading the Metrolinx Board about the relative prevalence of GO’s world-view on fare structures.
Within Toronto, the TTC flags three challenges for any fare system:
- Demand exceeds peak period capacity on some routes. By implication any fare structure that drives up demand will only worsen this situation.
- Revenue control. The TTC does not entirely trust that any new fare system will yield the same revenue.
- Complex fare and transfer rules. Within Toronto, the transfer rules make integration with other fare systems difficult if not impossible.
However, these may be offset somewhat through other improvements such as system-wide proof-of-payment and Presto rollout.
A timeline shows how various features of a new fare system would be implemented.
Note that a move to support a wider range of cards beyond Presto is timed for 2017. This date is part of the Presto plans, as reported at the recent Metrolinx Board meeting. An essential change in the Presto model is that all of the fare handling logic moves to the “back end” of the system and the card (or some equivalent such as a SmartPhone app) merely provides a rider’s “credential” saying “this is me” to the system. Such a change makes possible a much richer set of fare integration and loyalty programs because a rider’s travel can be accumulated over time (much as a phone bill is) and the appropriate rates and discounts applied after the fact based on usage.
Underlying the analysis will be the assumption that new fare policies would not be implemented until 2018 when the technology underpinning would be in place. There is an expectation that the price gap between cash fares and Presto would widen relative to current practice as this is already the case in other parts of the GTHA.
There are seven principles proposed for the analysis:
- Improve the customer experience
- Meet the needs of our different customer groups
- Increase ridership
- Optimize TTC fare revenue
- Optimize TTC operations
- Embrace new technology to modernize our fare offering
- Support fare integration initiatives across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area
The analysis will review:
- Cash fares and single ride options
- Loyalty programs
- Peak and off-peak fares
- 2hr time-based transfers
- Fare by distance/zone
- All-door boarding on buses
- Proof-of-Payment (POP) system wide including buses and subway
- “Tap on” to all buses and streetcars
- “Tap on and off” at all subway stations
Notable by their absence in this list is a discussion of service classes such as premium express fares and any scheme in which the “rapid transit” network would be a separate fare tier.
Also included on a regional basis will be considerations of low income discounts and fare equity as well as co-fares.
The analysis will come back for debate and endorsement by the TTC Board at its December meeting.