What Is The TTC Policy on Fares? (Updated)

Updated March 11, 2016 at 11:00 am: A section has been added commenting on the TTC’s claim that a two-hour transfer would result in a revenue loss of $20m/year.

Recent discussions about a proposed Toronto transit plan have included, almost as a minor sideshow, the Metrolinx study of regional fare integration. A basic tenet of this study is that “rapid transit” would be a separate fare zone or structure from everything else, but the exact mechanism by which this would be done is as yet unclear. GO Transit fares might be lowered and subway fares increased for certain trips, but there is no worked example to show how various trip types inside and outside the City of Toronto will be affected.

Although City and TTC staff are working with Metrolinx on this study, neither the TTC Board nor Council has been presented with a definitive proposal, and there is limited direction from either of them on guiding factors staff should use.

The only context in which Council has decided anything was for SmartTrack, and their wishes included lots of stations, frequent service and the ability to ride SmartTrack for a TTC fare. We know now that many stations and a good deal of service are no longer part of the package. As for fares, there has been some equivocating about this by staff as to just what a “TTC fare” might be by the time SmartTrack (or more accurately GO Regional Express Rail) begins operating.

As for the TTC Board, there has been a series of reports and decisions evolving over the last year. None of these sets a definitive policy, although the motions passed could be misread to imply this has happened.

April 29, 2015

At this meeting, the TTC Board considered a request from Commissioner Vince Crisanti that staff report back to the Board on a $1 off-peak fare for seniors. Discussion of this item brought in other requests and the following compendium motion was passed:

i) That the Chief Executive Officer report back to the TTC Board by June 22, 2015 in a briefing note on the feasibility of a six-month pilot program to reduce fare costs during off-peak hours to $1.00 for seniors.

ii) Request staff report back, as planned, and in consultation with city fare equity staff, in October for a fulsome discussion on fare policy when PRESTO is in place and for when we remove legacy fare media (tokens etc.) and what the future for cash payments are including consideration of various fare options including:

(i) fare by time of day
(ii) 2 hour transfer
(iii) Seniors fares by time of day, including $1.00 seniors fare during off-peak hours
(iv) Fare by distance
(v) Concession policy over all as informed by Fare Equity Strategy
(vi) Monthly pass versus daily / weekly / monthly capping
(vii) Free regular transit fares for Wheel-Trans qualified passengers in addition to the visually impaired.

iii) Request that staff continue discussions on a 2-hour transfer, with PRESTO and Metrolinx, to understand how that could be funded via savings in the PRESTO programme and in support of more regional fare integration.

Note that all of the above is a report request, not a policy direction prescribing that certain types of fares be included or excluded from the TTC tariff.

The “briefing note” regarding $1 fares for seniors, off-peak, never showed up in the public agenda because that term indicates a private memo, not a formal public report.

As for the remaining items, most came back in a report to the September 2015 Board Meeting.

September 28, 2015

At this meeting, the Board received a report and presentation on Fare Policy Principles, although they opted not to actually hear the presentation. The report recommended that the Board:

  1. approve the proposed fare policy principles;
  2. approve the analysis assumptions; and
  3. approve the list of areas for analysis.

The lists of items approved were embedded in the presentation.


  1. Improve the customer experience
  2. Meet the needs of our different customer groups
  3. Increase ridership
  4. Optimize TTC fare revenue
  5. Optimize TTC operations
  6. Embrace new technology to modernize our fare offering
  7. Support fare integration initiatives across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area


  1. Policy changes implemented from 2018
  2. Technical requirements to support fare policy changes are in place
  3. Price difference between cash and PRESTO fares will widen

Areas for Analysis

  1. Cash fares and single ride options
  2. Loyalty programs
  3. Peak and off-peak fares
  4. 2hr time-based transfers
  5. Fare by distance/zone
  6. All-door boarding on buses
  7. Proof-of-Payment (POP) system wide including buses and subway
  8. “Tap on” to all buses and streetcars
  9. “Tap on and off” at all subway stations

Analysis With Other Agencies

  1. Low income discount – Transit Fare Equity
  2. Co-fares – Fare integration across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

Note that the requirement for “tap off” in the subway received no discussion although it is essential to establishing any revised subway fare zone including fare-by-distance. Moreover, on the strength of what was only “analysis” at this point, the TTC 2016 Capital Budget included over $20 million for additional fare gates making this option possible throughout the subway system. This suggests that TTC staff had already made up their mind on the issue and proceeded accordingly.

Also, at this point, several possible fare schemes were still on the table.

The staff recommendations were amended by the addition of two more clauses:

4. Confirm the principle that the TTC shall remain whole and/or not experience any additional financial burden as a result of any regional fare integration proposals.
5. That the Province provides the same level of operating subsidy for riders crossing the City of Toronto boundary on local transit systems that they provide for GO riders crossing that boundary.

December 16, 2015

The whole package came back to the TTC Board in December with a report entitled Fare Policy. In fact, the recommendations in the report are written in such a way that some elements appear to be less a question of policy decision, but of general intent that could be changed in the future.

The minutes of the meeting record the outcome:

The Board received the presentation for information and adopted the recommendations in the staff report, as follows:

It is recommended that the Board:

1. Approve changes to TTC Fare Policy with specific emphasis on:

a. single cash fare in 2017
b. proof-of-payment system wide in 2017
c. ‘tap on’ to buses & streetcars, ‘tap on and off’ at subway stations in 2017
d. daily e-Purse loyalty on PRESTO in 2016
e. weekly and monthly Metropasses on PRESTO in 2016
f. moving the Metropass Discount Plan (MDP) to PRESTO online in 2017
g. migrating Volume Incentive Program customers onto the MDP program in 2017
h. peak and off-peak pricing as part of the 2018 budget process

2. Approve further analysis of:

a. single ride limited use PRESTO card for bus cash customers
b. no cash fares for bus cash customers
c. loyalty program options for MDP

3. Approve that no further analysis is required at this time for:

a. 2 hour time-based transfers
b. all-door boarding on buses
c. fare by distance/zone
d. cash fare proof-of-payment receipt for bus customers.

The items in clause 1 are explicit changes to fare policy to take effect in 2016-2018. Items in clauses 2 and 3 remain open for discussion, and the operative words are “further analysis … at this time”. The Board did not expressly adopt or reject any of the items in these clauses, it only said “look at the first group in more detail” and “we don’t need more work on the rest”. This does not constitute a definitive decision on either time-based transfers or fare-by-distance. There has been no discussion at Council of these items.

The seven options listed in clauses 2 and 3 were scored in a table to indicate how well they supported the seven principles that had been approved in September.


Note that the 2-hour transfer ranks highest with six out of seven principles, but its cost, estimated at $20m per year, sandbagged its embrace as part of the TTC’s 2016 fare proposals. “Optimizing” TTC fare revenue trumped all other considerations.

The detailed evaluations of the options make interesting reading. Here are three of them.


The main report gives more information behind this analysis:

Many transit agencies offer peak and off-peak pricing to reduce congestion during peak hours and encourage off-peak ridership. There are two ways in which this policy is implemented; either the peak price is inflated to discourage travel during peak hours or the off-peak price is decreased to encourage new customers during off-peak hours. Very few transit agencies have success implementing off-peak discounts, as the increased ridership often does not counteract the revenue loss from discounted rides. Increasing peak fares can also be difficult as it involves a change in customer behavior and not all customers have the flexibility to change their schedules. With peak and off-peak pricing there is also the risk that peak congestion will simply shift, instead of leveling out.

Fare impact analysis scenarios were completed based on current TTC ridership, and included options for raising the peak fare by 5, 15 and 25 cents, and decreasing the off-peak fare by 5 cents. For example, factoring in ridership loss and switching rates, the revenue potential of a 15 cent increase in peak pricing alongside a 5 cent across the board off-peak discount could result in an overall $2M net revenue gain. The peak and off peak pricing option that will be presented as part of the 2018 operating budget will meet the approved fare policy principle of optimizing TTC fare revenue.

The report is silent on the fact that riders who use any form of pass would not be affected by the fare differential. The report also omits any information on the numbers of riders or on the types of trips and geographic distribution of those most likely to be affected. This additional analysis is badly needed.


Although there is the possibility for a rider to pay a second fare for a long trip that might, or might not, slip over the two-hour boundary depending on circumstances, there is also a great simplification of transfer rules. Already, the TTC has to deal with special instructions for riders about not tapping-on when they are shifted between vehicles due to short-turns. This will only get worse as use of Presto builds out through the system. Not only can Presto not handle this type of “transfer”, there are also the common diversions and service substitutions which Presto’s database, built on the “standard” route configuration, wouldn’t know about. Can we honestly believe that the TTC will implement a completely new set of transfer rules every time they divert service? Of course not, but the instructions to riders would become complex beyond understanding, and disputes regarding extra fare charges would be numerous.

However, the $20m annual cost of this option appears to have frightened off support (TTC Chair Josh Colle especially mentioned that he is worried about lost revenue on this account), and so the idea goes into the “no further analysis” pile.

Updated March 11, 2016 at 11:00 am:

The estimate of lost revenue is overstated by at least 100% based on the following calculation:

  • 4% of customers take two trips within two hours.
  • With 545 million annual trips, 4% is 21.8 million.
  • Half of these would now be “free” or 10.9 million.
  • At an average fare of about $2, the “lost” revenue would be about $20m.
  • However, over half of all adult trips are paid for with passes which allow unlimited riding. Therefore at least half of the “lost” revenue is based on trips taken using passes today.
  • The correct “cost” of a two-hour transfer should be cited as no more than $10 million.

This puts the two-hour transfer in the same ballpark as free rides for children.


TTC staff neatly sidestep analysis of this option by saying “we’re waiting for Metrolinx”. That evades a key responsibility to the Board and to riders. It is all very well to say that this option gives “more equitable distribution of pricing”, but the premise that longer trips should cost more was removed from Toronto’s system in the early 1970s precisely because of the effect of fare zones on suburban riders. This analysis also gives no hint of the concept of service class which is integral to the Metrolinx study, and hence no hint of a double-whammy through fare by distance and a higher category of fares for rapid transit.

Like the two-hour transfer, this idea went into the “no further analysis” pile, but two problems remain:

  • the phrase “at this time” leaves open the possibility that these might resurface, and
  • the TTC Board and Council have not explicitly rejected or adopted either scheme.

As things stand, we must trust that Toronto’s interests are being represented at the staff level in the Metrolinx study, but there is no definitive policy statement at the political level declaring the ideas as “must have” or “don’t even think about it”.

If Toronto and the TTC want a two-hour transfer, then they should say so, even if the concept is subject to future choices about priorities for increasing subsidies or fares.

If Toronto and the TTC do not want distance or zone-based fares, at least within the city, then they should explicitly reject such options without waiting for Metrolinx to complete their work. “Regional integration” should not be a mantra to fleece riders with a two-tier scheme imposed on an integrated subway-surface network.

These are decisions for politicians who set policy, not for staff whose job is to advise on and implement directions from their political masters.

27 thoughts on “What Is The TTC Policy on Fares? (Updated)

  1. Apologies if I missed something, but would you agree though that fare integration is a good thing in principle? It strikes me as essential if we want GO RER to play a significant role for 416-internal travel and if we want it to attract riders who take the TTC to and/or from the respective GO RER stations. Given the concerns about who pays for the cost of fare integration, the answer ought to be to increase provincial fare subsidies.

    Steve: I agree that integration is a good idea, but what Metrolinx is heading toward is a cash grab from existing users of the subway that would generate more revenue. The idea is for the total take to be “revenue neutral” so that no additional subsidy is required.

    Instead of having an open discussion of how much, say, a TTC/GO co-fare would cost, or what would be required to subsidize 905/416 cross border trips, Metrolinx has produced a consultant’s report full of mumbo jumbo that conceals the real effect.

    I would not mind a report that said “here are our options and their costs”, but Metrolinx goes out of their way to avoid talking about effects lest people catch on to what would happen. The fact that City and TTC staff appear to be consorting in this deception is even more troubling.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Fare by Distance & Zones:

    I’m disappointed there was no suggestion for cutting fares for short distances. This would have landed in the “Pros” column for Customer Experience. If they go this route, there must be some give and take. It seems they’re only taking in this analysis.

    Hour Time-Based Transfer:

    Why can’t Presto handle transfers like this? Surely time-stamps are used when tapping-on and tapping-out using these cards? If this is indeed the case and the rules have been hard-coded, then the system was poorly designed from the start.

    Steve: Presto handles this now for the systems in the 905. The TTC is the “odd man out” with their complex and impossible to implement transfer rules. Indeed, for the early days of TTC Presto use, the two-hour fare was in effect because they had not yet implemented the software that deals with transfers. Also, the rule is that your fare must still be valid when you tap on. A tap off is not required at the end of the journey.


    The TTC’s MDP has been great for our family. We get a free month of transit every year in exchange for pre-paying for that year. But this feature only benefits people who are able to pay $1000+ at once. In other words, the richest transit riders are paying the least for transit. MDP should be scrapped altogether. Monthly passes should then only come into effect for Presto users who cross a certain ride threshold… after which, rides are free for the rest of the month. This way, there is no outlay of funds that poorer riders need to spend every month. Less administration cost, and no MDP passes sent through the mail (although this last point may not be an issue with Presto.)

    Steve: Well, if you’re pre-paying, you’re getting ripped off. MDP bills for each pass monthly at a discounted rate with the effect that over the year you save the equivalent of one month. When you make a statement like this, it shows you don’t understand how the fare system works and criticize it on a false premise.

    The scheme you propose, fare capping, is one way of implementing a monthly pass equivalent, although it does not guard against overcharging because Presto cannot deal with valid transfers that don’t fit the standard pattern. Fare capping is also the method already in use on GO.

    Outlay of funds? You still need a bank account that can be charged to auto-load your Presto card when the balance gets low, or you have to preload money on the card. The only difference from MDP is that you have the choice of doing this in smaller amounts through the month, not as a single up-front payment.

    As you note, there won’t be any mailings required, but that’s a relatively small cost compared to the overhead involved in people buying passes in person at subway stations.


    Seniors are a very wealthy generation. They do not need discounts. It may be politically advantageous, but there is no reason to treat them any differently than the TTC’s core ridership.

    Steve: As a senior, and a comparatively well-off one, I agree that some of the discounts we get might not be “deserved”. However, to say that we are a “wealthy” generation ignores the fact that many seniors are not well-off. I could equally argue that university students, as a class, are more affluent than their age group as a whole, but they too get discounts.

    The larger issue is the support of the poor regardless of their age or status. The City has a group working on this already, and TTC fares are only part of their mandate.


  3. Amazing how the TTC can find 20 million for new fare gates but 20 million for switching to a 2 hour pass is impossible.

    Steve: Yes, the irony is obvious, although the gates are a one-time capital expense while the pass is an ongoing cost. The issue here is whether the benefit of the two-hour fare “buys” $20m worth of improvement in transit. I am not sure that the same could be said of the fare gates.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The two hour transfer is always portrayed as a cost but I could imagine taking a lot more short trips by transit that I walk or drive now if I didn’t need to pay full fare both ways, especially off peak. The cost to the TTC of the lost fares by my not using transit is never raised. This obsession with trying to squeeze most revenue per trip versus raising ridership is awful. The purpose of public transit should be focused on increasing people’s ability to move about city, which a 2hour transfer would certainly do.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Golly, this is really quite complex; thanks for having the time and perspectives to outline the various principles, contexts and details for all of us to grapple with. I think there is much to be worried about, thought at times I do like the idea of some fare-by-distance as I sense the old city core is paying over-much for what is called ‘service’. We should bust out of the boxes of fares, however, and explore the myriads of ways that other forms of mobility aren’t paying their fair share ie. the cars are subsidized, and substantially. An old stat from Vancouver, cited in a Jan 10, 1996 Globe article, was that every car there had a $2700 per year annual gifting, tho of course vehicles are expensive to operate, and are useful sometimes, and there are some fees and charges and fines paid in to the governments – just not enough – as the Vancouver analysis found that $2700 figure was about 7 times more than what transit was subsidized by.

    So where are the road fares? I sense that both Metrolinx and the TTC are far less worried about actual fairness for transit users vs. car drivers/votorists as they are politically chosen for ‘managing’ transit, not advocating for transit. Many of the TTC Commissioners, as it’s far more open than the opaque Metrolinx board, likely have very anti-transit voting records at the City Clowncil debates ie. how’s that Vehicle Registration Tax going??

    If we did the math from the earlier revenue of the VRT, there are about a million cars that exist and park and require pavement/drainage etc. At a full cost recovery, there’d be another $2.7B on the table for the local Scarborough Subway Extension, so it wouldn’t matter so much that it was a relative folly/wa$te at this time. How much more revenue would be around to ensure a lot of transit operations and capital if we had the same degree of road fare recovery as transit fare recovery?

    More info well beyond what I remember and postulate is on vtpi.org I think it is; Todd Littman’s site/work. Also useful is Pamela Blais’ research, but expect denial about the car costs, even caronic denial….


  6. Getting ripped off by MDP:

    Ooops, I didn’t realize you could pay monthly. Either way, I’d still prefer to pay at once, vs reconciling my accounts every month to make sure the correct amount has been automatically withdrawn. My time is worth more than what I could make if I invested that money.

    Steve: I can assure you that as an MDP customer my account has been correctly charged every month for years.

    MDP outlay of funds:

    Even if you pay monthly, MDP is almost $130/mth, which is a huge amount for some people to invest once every month. You can top-up Presto for $20 whenever required. The difference in the amount of cash going out of someone’s account at once is significant for people who live paycheck to paycheck.


    Certainly, some seniors are not well off. And as you mention, some students are not hurting for cash. Focusing on the poor, regardless of age or status seems like a better route.


  7. Steve wrote:

    “Already, the TTC has to deal with special instructions for riders about not tapping-on when they are shifted between vehicles due to short-turns. This will only get worse as use of Presto builds out through the system. Not only can Presto not handle this type of “transfer”, there are also the common diversions and service substitutions which Presto’s database, built on the “standard” route configuration, wouldn’t know about.”

    Sorry Steve, but I disagree. The issue here is two-fold:

    1) Presto can handle a short turn – you simply tap on the next bus/streetcar that comes along and continue – I have done so in other areas, and it works. You get off bus/streetcar A and then tap on bus/streetcar B – it does not matter that you are going in the same direction. If they can do it in other cities, they can do it in Toronto. For example, I can pay when I get on the 23 Lakeshore bus in Mississauga and travel west to Port Credit GO station. I can get off, and then get on the next westbound 23 bus that comes. I tap on, but do not pay another fare. How would that not work on the TTC unless the TTC does not want it to work?

    Steve: That’s because in Mississauga you have a two-hour transfer. In Toronto, Presto thinks you had a stopover which costs another fare.

    2) Toronto’s transfer policy does not have to be complex – and it really isn’t. Just allow of any direction travel in a two hour period. Again, Presto doesn’t care where you get on and off. Just keep tapping on and only after two hours would you be charged a second fare. I don’t understand how that is so ‘complex’. Again, every other transit agency makes it work easily – just copy them for the TTC. If there is any complexity, it’s because the TTC does not want a two hour transfer. And the example with the subways is the prime example. Why on earth does anyone need to tap on and off the subway? This is the TTC making a simple solution and making it complex.

    Steve: I agree that the policy does not have to be complex, but TTC management beats the big “we will lose money” drum every time someone proposes cut fares, and they emphasize this cost out of proportion to the benefit. The tax hawks on Council lap this stuff up. As for tap off on the subway, the intent is to enable the Metrolinx fare-by-distance scheme with the subway as a separate fare zone, but this has never been approved by the Board or by Council.


  8. For years, the TTC resisted putting bike racks on buses, even though they cost less than $1000 on a bus costing half a million dollars or more. They argued that bike racks wouldn’t bring in more riders, completely missing the fact that it makes transit more convenient for those who like to bike. I was preparing a deputation showing how transit systems all over North America (e.g., Los Angeles, Ottawa) were outfitting buses with bike racks, when Adam Giabrone, a fellow cyclist and chair of the TTC announced a change in policy.

    I’m one of those transit riders who would take the TTC more often if they offered a 2 hour transfer.


  9. I’m in favour of a 2-hour transfer. The $20M figure may be accurate if:

    – the 4% figure quoted by the TTC refers only to customers that don’t hold passes. It is possible that this detail is elided for brevity in a presentation format
    – dynamic effects: some passholders would abandon passes, plus induced demand from the 2 hour transfers (although a benefit to the city) results in increased service delivery costs. I have no idea what these costs might be, but they are not zero.

    Steve said:

    However, to say that we (seniors) are a “wealthy” generation ignores the fact that many seniors are not well-off.

    True, but a higher share of non-seniors are not well-off. Public policy has not caught up with the fact that Canadians 55-80 are collectively wealthier than both their parents and their children, which has not happened in living memory. Advancing age does not signify need, instead it is inversely correlated. Seniors fares are a relic, and remain as a vote-buying mechanism.

    Steve said:

    I could equally argue that university students, as a class, are more affluent than their age group as a whole, but they too get discounts.

    You’d be wrong if you did argue that. Post-secondary students at any age are less affluent than their same-age peers. After tuition and fees but before living expenses, most post-secondary students’ income is negative. Post-secondary students have lower incomes than any other group except the severely ill or handicapped.

    Steve: This gets tricky because students have, by definition, chosen to pursue that role which involves considerable expense with no corresponding income, the precise opposite of someone in the job market. It could be argued that they are poor because they choose to be poor in hopes of a more affluent life after graduation. An educated populus is a “good thing”, but like many good things, we have to decide which of them should be supported and to what extent. I was simply making the case that post-secondary students were extended “student” TTC fares, and this was a political decision at a time when the TTC was telling other poverty advocates that it was not the transit system’s job to subsidize less well-off riders. The double-standard is brutally obvious.

    Admittedly, their parents are more affluent than their parents’ age group as a whole. But if we’re counting parents’ wealth, then by the same principle those age 30-55 should pay the most, because their parents are seniors, the most affluent group of all. Similarly, since seniors so often lack parents, seniors should get a discount.

    It’s a bizarre principle, given that using one’s own ability to pay is objectively more sensible than using one’s parents’ ability to pay. Yet it’s a better foundation than a policy which sets fares on the false assumption that seniors are poorer than non-seniors.


  10. I feel like the report calling all 2nd trips within a 2-hour window as “return trips” is a pretty gross mis-characterization of these trips.

    Maybe I’m overestimating it, but some relatively large portion of these trips are, or would be, people hopping off the bus/streetcar/subway, grabbing a few groceries, or a coffee, or whatever, shopping for 20 minutes between their work and their home, and then hopping back on the transit service in the same direction.

    Not all uses of transit are round trips. This isn’t a simple commuter service, we’re trying to build transit as a lifestyle choice, or at least we should be.

    Trip chaining is very common, especially amongst women (citation needed, I’m sure), and right now, the TTC forces a second fare onto users who have to stop on the way, while consuming (nearly) the exact same amount of transit.

    And never mind that a simple milk run that involves a return trip could be much shorter, and thus less expensive for the TTC to service than a single-direction ride from Union to Downsview.

    It’s a commuter-oriented mindset, and for the future of this city and continued economic growth, we need to be promoting car-free or car-lite lifestyles. We continue to come up with policy decisions that run counter to our long term goals (as stated in the TMP and OP).

    Steve: Thank you for mentioning trip chaining. It is an important issue that I forgot to include in my critique of the TTC’s analysis.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Often we hear complaints about the high fares that we have to pay and use on the TTC. They ignore whatever the governments (plural) give in addition to fares. The TTC (and GO) get the lowest subsidies in North America.

    Want fares equal to other transit agencies? Want “luxuries” that other transit agencies have? Ask the politicians (city, province, and federal) to contribute to the operational budget. Maybe that way we can get fare integration and two-hour transfers, we need.

    Steve: The two-hour transfer is not a luxury, although it is presented that way. I believe that the TTC overstates the net cost of implementation, and the politicians ignore the benefits to riders. In one move we could address the high cost of multiple short trips (aka trip chaining), eliminate a source of transfer disputes, immensely simplify the rules underlying Presto, and create an easy integration point for cross-border co-fares with 905 systems.

    Meanwhile, Metrolinx treats two hour transfers as a “transfer policy”, not as a “fare policy”. This quite blatantly avoids a major policy option that they don’t want to examine in detail.


  12. Steve wrote:

    “In Toronto, Presto thinks you had a stopover which costs another fare.”

    That’s because that’s what the TTC wants Presto to do. It can be changed – just enter the change into the system. It’s a computer program that can be changed as required, and all that is required is a motion by Toronto to do so.

    Steve replies: Indeed that’s how Presto worked for the first weeks it was active — a time based transfer — because the TTC’s rules had not yet been “turned on”.

    Steve wrote:

    “As for tap off on the subway, the intent is to enable the Metrolinx fare-by-distance scheme with the subway as a separate fare zone, but this has never been approved by the Board or by Council.”

    Then why is the TTC doing this if this is not their policy?

    Steve: Because their management is doing an end run around the Commission.

    Ross Trusler wrote:

    “the 4% figure quoted by the TTC refers only to customers that don’t hold passes. It is possible that this detail is elided for brevity in a presentation format”

    And the TTC does not seem to consider the cost benefit from the extra trips people may make if they can pay one fare instead of two. There are trips I currently do not make by TTC at the moment because of this, which I would if I could pay one fare instead of two.

    Steve: Also the claim that it’s for non-passholders does not make sense when you crank the numbers. If at least half of all trips now are by passholders (it’s actually more), then the base number to start with is 272.5 million trips (half of 545m). Four percent of that is 10.9m. Since only the “return” trip is free, that means 5.45m lost fares. But if the revenue loss is $20m, that means the average fare is almost $4 which is not possible.

    Therefore, they have counted passholders in the total.


  13. Sorry for being off-topic but…

    hamish wrote:

    “An old stat from Vancouver, cited in a Jan 10, 1996 Globe article, was that every car there had a $2700 per year annual gifting, tho of course vehicles are expensive to operate, and are useful sometimes, and there are some fees and charges and fines paid in to the governments – just not enough – as the Vancouver analysis found that $2700 figure was about 7 times more than what transit was subsidized by.”

    While I agree with your position on funding for public transit, I’m skeptical with statistics like that. Looking at the budget breakdowns for Toronto, I can’t see how the claim is remotely true.

    Also, transportation infrastructures are not just gifts for motoring commuters. We need roads anyway for moving goods and services. Public transit runs on roads too, even though we never consider it as a subsidized “road user”.

    Steve: I believe Hamish’s number, regardless of its age, is for subsidy from all levels of government, and so the city numbers only represent part of the total. The chart you linked is the capital budget which pays for major repairs and construction, a number which we know from the infrastructure backlog to be inadequate for our actual needs. There is also the ongoing cost of operation and maintenance for the road network.


  14. It’s interesting to see that, other than TTC and GO, every agency using Presto currently has a timed transfer policy. All GTA agencies allow 2-hour transfers. (It’s possible that Burlington doesn’t — their web site doesn’t specify.) OC Transpo allows 90 to 105 minutes (depending on when you board). There doesn’t appear to be any agency using Presto, other than TTC, that needs an algorithm that determines whether a boarding is a new fare or a transfer — at least, nothing more complicated than “what time is it”, or maybe a GO co-fare.

    That makes me wonder how much effort needs to be expended by the TTC to create an algorithm or transfer table that allows Presto to determine whether a transfer is valid or not. It needs to be robust enough to minimize the number of cases where a valid connection is not recognized (leading to transfer disputes on the vehicle and/or with customer service). Conversely,if the letter of the existing transfer policy is to be maintained (no stop-overs) I would think it would have to be extremely detailed to cover not only valid transfer locations and combinations, but also acceptable lengths of time between taps based on where you boarded the previous vehicle, how long it took to get there and how long it has been since it departed, whether there has been another vehicle pass by on the rider’s connecting route, etc. And then conversely again, it needs flexibility in the event of diversions, delays, service gaps etc.

    Presto hasn’t had to deal with any of this on the systems where it is more widely in use. I wonder how it will cope when it is rolled out system wide in Toronto.

    Steve: As a simple example, the King car will divert for two weeks for track construction. I am willing to bet that the Presto tables don’t know anything about this. Then consider one day events where routes are scrambled downtown. I suspect that the only reason there have no been loud screams yet is that there are so few Presto users on the TTC.


  15. I cannot for the life of me understand how the TTC believes that a 2 hour transfer is a bad thing.

    On Tuesday, I took the DRT Pulse bus from Scaborough to Oshawa Centre Mall on one fare. I did it because of the 2 hour transfer. I was able to get off the bus run into the mall, get what I needed and come visit my Grandmother at the Scarborough/Pickering border.

    This came in handy and no doubt people realize it. Even in Mississauga where I work, Miway has a 2 hour fare and it is widely used. I know people who will get off the bus at Square One, grab something and continue on their way. I do it to get to work. I hop off the 109, Meadowvale grab Tims in the mall and then hop the 28 Confederation to work. All on one fare.


  16. Am I correct that the quoted 4% doesn’t include pass-users? Because I make multi-stop trips All the Time – with my Metropass. In the months when I don’t get one (vacation, etc.) I make many MANY fewer trips to save the cost of cash fares.

    Steve: As I noted in a previous reply, the 4% number must include (wrongly) passholders because the average fare implied by a $20m revenue loss would be well above the cash adult fare otherwise.


  17. With a new federal government and a provincial government that want to invest in transit, why are they coming up with the most difficult schemes possible for riders? Why not pay for the simple things that will benefit the riders? Price gouging of the existing users should not be paying for cross-border travel or expansion or time-based fares. Surely after years of Harper misery, the beaver is ready to sh** again. Spend it on the people.


  18. I assume that if Presto misapplies the TTC’s transfer policy, the amount gets debited from your card, and you can’t argue it with the operator: you have to go talk to TTC or Presto. In the current process, if you don’t like what the operator is saying about your transfer, you have a choice to pay — or not to pay, by either escalating (not recommended), convincing the operator, or getting off and waiting for a more sympathetic operator. With Presto, it’s a fait accompli and you have paid, whether you want to or not. I imagine this “we got their money and the onus is on them to get it back” revelation caused high-fives in some meeting rooms when it was shown on PowerPoint.


  19. Without tap-offs the TTC’s fare system is too complicated for Presto, no matter what management is saying. Just yesterday I was “gifted” a free trip because Presto incorrectly interpreted my return trip as a transfer, since from my original tap-on point they had no way of knowing what vehicle I was on, what route I took, and where I got off. In order to account for these factors, the TTC software has been programmed to allow generous amounts of time for transfers, which led the system to accidentally allow me a free ride. Not that I’m complaining, but a two-hour (or even a 90 minute) transfer window would be a much fairer and predictable way to approach things.


  20. It is not surprising that they hid the 2 hour transfer from choices to vote on. The TTC always digs in against anything they don’t want to happen regardless of how good it might be.

    Also, there was nothing in any of these choices that referred to free rides for children. Where the Hell did that come from? Out of nowhere. Lots of money to pay for that. Same as free tuition for students. Not even a hint there would be relief or reduced tuition let alone free. Lots of money for that too.

    Steve: The free children’s fares were introduced in the 2015 budget and therefore were not included in the current (2016) list of fare options.


  21. Just in case anyone didn’t know, GO has a THREE hour window.

    And regarding them thinking of lowering the seniors fare to $1, that really angers me. A senior in Toronto gets no less than $15,000 a year. Many people, myself included, survive on a lot less than that. A lot of poor people, once they reach 65, have more money than they’ve ever had in their life. If you’re 59, your guaranteed annual income is $0. If you’re 65, it’s $15,000. I think you have to be poor or have been poor for a long time to really grasp the awfulness.


  22. Mark G wrote:

    The two hour transfer is always portrayed as a cost but I could imagine taking a lot more short trips by transit that I walk or drive now if I didn’t need to pay full fare both ways, especially off peak.

    I have been saying this for years. As Steve pointed out, the $20M figure is overstated by 100%, so $10M is more realistic. I would argue that new fare revenue from situations such as Mark G mentions would easily bring in the $10M per year, if not more.

    Then there is the making it “legal” for all of us who “creatively” use transfers now.

    Brent wrote:

    It’s interesting to see that, other than TTC and GO, every agency using Presto currently has a timed transfer policy.

    Actually, the Presto implementation on GO acts as a 2.5 hour transfer policy, in a fare-by-distance context. Any new tap-on within 2.5 hours of one’s first tap-on is treated as a continuation of the original trip. When one looks up the overall fare of a multi-hop trip, compared to the cost of each hop, it is less. For example, from Wilfred Laurier to York U, the adult Presto fare is $15.10. This involves two buses: one to Square One that would be $13.46 on its own followed by a second bus from there to York U which would be $6.97 on its own.

    It is because of this implementation, that if one makes a return trip within the 2.5 hours, the return fare will be quite small. I have done this a few times between Richmond Hill and Union and the return fare is around $2, compared to the one-way fare of $6.44.

    Similarly, any of the GO co-fares work when the trip on the 905 agency occurs within 2.5 hours of starting a GO trip, even if that trip is not a direct connection. For example, taking a lakeshore GO train to Union, then taking the subway to Finch followed by a YRT bus from Finch. Presto will only charge the 75 cent co-fare for this trip if the tap is within 2.5 hours of the tap-on when GO was boarded.


  23. Steve: In my comment I had written that GO has a 2.5 hour limit, as this was the case until fairly recently. As karennewton mentioned, it is now 3 hours. Also, their page makes specific mention that a return trip is treated as a transfer credit when done within this limit.


  24. Personally, I think the 2hr transfer gives more benefits to poor people than low fares. I think having higher fares would be well worth the benefit of 2hr transfers. It’s very much an issue of “freedom.” With the current system, you pay once to go to work, and then you pay again to come home. If you want to do anything else, you have to walk because if you’re poor, it’s not worth $6 to go anywhere except to work. I might be able to save $5 by shopping at the big grocery store instead of at the corner store, but I can’t because it costs $6 to get to the grocery store and back. I might be able to save a few bucks buying things at Walmart or at Dollarama, but I can’t go there because it will cost me $6. Dropping by the library: $6. Renewing the health card: $6. If I can delay my purchases enough that I will save more than $6, then I can buy a $12 day pass, but that’s a lot of waiting. With a 2hr transfer, I can do these things quickly at a cost of a single $3 fare. Or, even better, I can drop by these places on the way back from work and not have to pay anything extra. With the 2hr fare, it gives poor people the freedom of extra mobility. They no longer have to calculate whether every place they visit is worth more than the $6 in fares it will take to get there or not.

    Also, Ottawa used to have peak/off-peak fares, and it was awful. It was complicated and everyone was always looking at the clock. I remember waiting at bus stops, really stressed out, because the buses would be running late, and if it didn’t come REAL SOON, I would have to pay the extra peak fares, and I really didn’t have the money. Some idiotic economist might rave about the theoretical benefits of demand-pricing, but stuff like that only applies to people with spare income that they can afford to waste. When you’re pinching pennies, you obviously end up only riding at non-peak times because that’s how you can save the most money. And then life becomes super stressful and super complicated as your entire life starts revolving around riding only at non-peak times. It’s not “people have the choice to ride at off-peak times in order to have a lower fare, moving demand to off-peak times” it’s actually “poor people get to choose between living miserably in order to save money or paying extra for the privilege of living like a normal person.”


  25. As TTC bus driver, I can tell you that most drivers barely look at transfers at all and this is because 80% or more are used improperly. Either used to get back on the same bus, used at a non transfer point, or just expired. We have been told to just keep the wheels moving. I feel my blood pressure spike every time, but I just say thank you and keep moving. It’s not fair to the paying customers, to hold the bus out of service and then have a supervisor show up and give the person a new transfer. Which is even more annoying.

    As far as Presto. I think in theory it WAS a good idea a few years ago. But now, it’s just a way to make extra money. Those Presto cards aren’t free, so you have to buy one, then add money to it. Also, there is talk of even the under 12 kids, who ride free, will be needing a Presto card? Really?? The under 12 policy is also a farce. I get a lot of 16 to 20 year olds claiming to be 12. Worth a fair dispute? No way! It was a bad idea to implement such a policy with no rules. How about kids ride free with their parents and no free rides after 8 pm? Not to mention the safety factor of an actual child getting on the bus and going far away from home without anyone knowing, because they can ride for free, by themselves. A better system would be to accept credit, debit and cell phone tap payments. Nearly everyone had one of these already, so no extra cost to the passengers and less excuses for not paying the full fare. I think I have had 10 people pay the full $3.25, since it has been implemented. Again, not worth fight. Inform of actual fare and keep moving.

    The only thing I will NOT do is give you a transfer if you boarded at a station. I have seen way too many people smuggle their way into stations and then have the nerve to come and ask for a transfer. That’s not going to happen. Go into the station and steal yourself a transfer from the machine. My advice is, take a transfer wherever you pay your fare, whether you need it or not, this way you are covered.


  26. Picking up on earlier comments on 2 hour transfer windows on the TTC –

    I can report that I am reliably getting a 2 hour window when paying on the TTC using Presto on streetcars and subway.

    As far as I can make out I can tap on to as many vehicles / stations as I like in any situation, any direction, any route within 2 hours of the first tap and I am not charged for subsequent taps.

    I have examples which would in the past definitely required a 2nd fare. For example: getting on to a 2nd vehicle traveling the same direction on the same route (the “stop over” scenario), and getting on to a 2nd vehicle traveling in opposite directions on the same route (the “return” scenario).

    The earlier report in the earlier thread above that the TTC’s “new rules” have been implemented in late Jan 2016 appear not to be correct (or are no longer the case).

    Not had a chance to try the TTC->Go->TTC scenario yet… likely that will have to wait until more buses are Presto enabled.

    Steve: This does not surprise me one bit.


  27. TTC Presto rules do not make sense.

    I understand you’re supposed to tap on each vehicle you board (though I’ve heard differing rules with regards to tap on/off) but if you get booted off a short turned vehicle or a vehicle headed off-route (e.g. a streetcar headed back to the yard) users apparently get charged a second fare if they get on to a second vehicle on the same route.

    The TTC will have to adopt 2 hour passes. It’s only a matter of time before something gives.


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