An obvious question about the Metrolinx Fare Integration Strategy update is whether the TTC has quietly adopted a new fare policy to suit Metrolinx.
The Metrolinx Regional Fare Integration report on their board’s agenda for Wednesday clearly leads the way for fare zones at least on the subway within the TTC system.
There have been rumblings of this from management comments at TTC, but nothing definitive. However, the installation of fare gates with tap out capability is a clear preparation for such a change. While this might be part of the TYSSE roll out, the wider application of zoned fares (or some equivalent) within the TTC has never been a matter for public debate or decision as far as I know.
Has this matter been presented to the Commission for discussion, or are there plans to do so in the near future?
What is the TTC’s position on the Metrolinx fare integration proposals?
The TTC’s Deputy CEO, Chris Upfold, replied:
The TTC[s] sit on the various Steering Working groups for regional fare integration and I feel our voice is well heard there.
As per our report to the Board on Fare Policy TTC staff are not undertaking any more work on fare by distance or by zone within the boundaries of Toronto on service operated by the TTC. We do not feel it is an appropriate or useful policy direction in those circumstances but are working with Metrolinx on how it could work from a regional basis.
Our board has passed a number of motions, over just the few years I’ve been here, that any regional integration must not come at the expense of the TTC or our customers.
Faregates are being rolled out at subway stations for a number of reasons but primarily:
- The integration with a legacy turnstile with a new reader wasn’t the best technical solution and caused lots of other potential problems.
- The legacy turnstile (especially high gates) are nearing the end of their life and we were likely to need a wholesale replacement in the next 10 years or so.
- Overall the whole life cost (over 20 years) was much lower for installing new faregates.
- New faregates are higher capacity (and far more flexible) and do things like real time fault reporting etc.
Tap in and out functionality is necessary for the TYSSE in order to manage regional integration on how fare policy sits today. Faregates (with readers on both sides) would help to enable any zonal/distance based system.
Now it is up to Metrolinx to explain how their proposal meshes with the TTC’s stated position.
Thanks for asking this question, it makes me feel a bit more assured that the TTC/City isn’t on board with Metrolinx’s musings on what they interpret “fare integration” as being.
The implementation of tap-in/tap-out fare gates is helpful for ensuring that GO, YRT, and Brampton Züm riders aren’t charged a TTC fare when they can no longer get to the York University campus directly and are dumped at one of the subway stations instead. But otherwise they serve little purpose except for origin-destination surveys.
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That could actually be a very useful feature though I have my doubts that the TTC will really analyse the data! They never seemed to do anything with the data they had in the past.
Steve: As I said in a previous response, the TTC subway is rather simple and service policies call for the same level of service at all hours and times except for a few peak period exceptions, and the orphan Sheppard line. All the O-D info in the world is of only academic interest if there is no intent to use it to tune the service.
Chris’s response make sense. People need not look further than the Yonge line from Bloor to Eglinton to see how old some of these turnstiles are. They were never designed to be computerized and need to be replaced eventually. Some of them likely date back to the original opening of the line.
The high gates never did make sense. I recall a few bikes getting stuck in them over the years and in the event of an emergency it prevented an easy departure. I was once involved with a Plan A at York Mills. I recall the operator screaming to evacuate the station. Had it been an actual fire anyone who attempted to use the south exit from the station would have had a complicated time doing so.
At least the new fare gates are bi-directional. Did Chris mention how they were going to monitor the turnstiles at the unmanned entrance/exits? Unless they put it a vestibule like they did at Scarborough Centre people will jump the gates.
Steve: The text I published is the complete memo from Chris Upfold. I have not heard how they plan to manage the “automatic” entrances.
Steve, can you post us to the planned tapping requirements for TYSSE? I’m not clear on who will tap and at what point(s) yet.
Steve: It looks like there will be a requirement to tap out at York U and points north so that riders originating in York Region will get a credit and not be charged a TTC fare for that part of their journey.
That is how I understood it was going to work. However, I do hope that it is properly promoted that this is a credit of a fare that is already charged when they entered the subway. The system will have to charge the TTC fare upon entry, and only refund it to the Presto card if the person exits within York Region or at the York U stop.
The significance is that occasionally someone might be travelling with a Presto card with just enough for a single fare with plans to top it up at a location along the way at some point in their day. Also, it is possible that an online reload may not have reached the card with that last fare used. A card with a near-zero balance will be permitted to go negative (if it is registered) for one fare, but the card will become locked and will require it to be unlocked at a location where it can be topped up in person, for a charge of 25 cents plus the negative balance.
I can see this being an issue if this is not communicated well.
And how long have they been in these groups. I can see references on TTC’s involvement with the Province’s Fare Integration and Service Coordination (FISC) Steering Committee as far back as 1988. (A reminder that after over 28 years, nothing will likely happen quickly.)
Steve: Also as an indication of spin, when asked about TTC presence on this committee at the Metrolinx Board meeting, staff claimed that it’s one big happy family, and there was no mention of dissent from TTC.
If (when) Metrolinx tries to foist fare by distance or some zone system upon the TTC to increase revenue to pay for cheaper fares from the 905 into the downtown it will be interesting to see the Scarborough councillors’ reactions. They might even side with the downtown ones to roast his eminence the mayor. This is truly a power play by Metrolinx.
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All these premiums and fare increases are moot since five cent transfers are available in Chinatown for any date or time.
Steve: Paper transfers will go “poof” like magic paper at the end of 2016.
Perhaps I’m reading into this a bit, but it doesn’t sound like a “905” fare zone has been ruled out for TTC subway service operated outside of the City of Toronto.
(Also, thanks for the article, Steve)
Steve: Originally, the entire subway was going to be in the “416” fare zone and that was part of the operating “deal” between Toronto and York Region. TTC paid to run the subway, and got all of the revenue. Then York got pissed that students going to York U would pay a TTC fare for the short ride at the top end of the subway, and the fare structure was changed so that they won’t pay a TTC fare to ride that stretch pf the line. Hence the need for tap in, tap out, on the north end of the TYSSE.
I was talking to the “Presto Fare Gate Demonstrator” at the Metrolinx meeting on Wednesday and he said that they were going to have to have a “medium” for single fare riders that would act as proof of payment and allow for a tap of ability at subway stations. Since this is POP it would also act as a transfer. Every system I rode on in Europe has some form of this. Trying to find a method that works is a lot simpler than trying to find gravity waves; maybe it isn’t for Metrolinx.
I can understand the need for this, as currently York’s commuter students who live in York Region pay a single fare to get to campus. However, it appears to me that this tap-on/tap-off system will be used to not charge for subway use for ANYONE who boards and leaves at York University, 407, and VCC (not sure about Pioneer Village/Steeles West).
The problem I see is that this ability to not have to pay the TTC fare for this stretch of the line ought to be only for those for whom the subway trip is an extension of a transit trip that involves YRT or Brampton’s Zum 501.
Anyone boarding transit at the subway that is only using the subway on this stretch of the line, should be paying the TTC fare. While walk-ins may be relatively few, there will no doubt be a number of drop-offs that would be getting free transit in the form of a short subway ride.