Updated April 29, 2016 at 9:00 am: Information added about the joint meeting.
The joint meeting of the Metrolinx and TTC boards was something of a love-in with much generous praise of each other’s organization and shows of “working together” with joint presentations on major issues. In his opening remarks, TTC Chair Josh Colle noted that although the two organizations had similar goals, there would be times when the TTC and Toronto Council would not agree with Metrolinx. It is too early to tell whether cracks began to form in the building foundations at Union Station where the normal state of Metrolinx meetings is sunny and the concept of disagreement is banished in the (usually) well-managed agendas.
A substantial chunk of the meeting was consumed with opening remarks and overviews of the two organizations by their respective CEOs. At an initial meeting, this might be expected, but it follows a distressing pattern where substantive discussion is pre-empted by management back-patting eating into the limited time available. The idea that Metrolinx and TTC Board members would need an overview of each other’s current activities says much about the degree to which each board is informed about transit in the GTHA in general. (One might make a similar observation about some board members with respect to their own agencies, but that’s another topic.)
The TTC made a point of citing their own ridership numbers and, by implication, the scale of their operation (not to mention its longevity) compared to Metrolinx. For its part, Metrolinx noted that it has just reached 10 years of age, but completely forgot that GO Transit has been around for almost 50 years.
Cross-border travel at 58 million rides per year might increase by as much as 8 million with some form of TTC/GO/905 fare integration and the removal of the boundary between TTC and other systems, but this would still only bring the cross-border total to about 12% of the TTC’s total ridership. The main benefit of fare integration would be to reduce fares for existing riders.
In his opening presentation, TTC CEO Andy Byford dwelt at length on five “megaprojects” within the TTC, and showed a list of other major improvements in the hopper (see p34 of the presentation). All of these have been implemented at least to some degree except for Time-Based Transfers, and the idea has been sidelined for the moment in part because it is perceived to be too expensive by some city politicians. The most recent word on the subject was in a December 2015 update on fare policy:
While introducing a 2 hour time-based transfer is still considered a worthwhile service improvement that would reduce complexity and make the TTC consistent with other transit agencies within the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, the ongoing Fare Integration work, led by Metrolinx, may propose changes to transfer rules. That being the case, it is recommended that further analysis or implementation should follow the completion of the Fare Integration work if required. [pp. 2-3]
This is something of a Catch-22 because transfer rules are obviously part of any overall fare strategy – they affect the attractiveness of transit for multiple “short hops” on a single fare without the need to own a Metropass (or some equivalent). Moreover, the ability to make many short trips on one fare speaks to the problem of “trip chaining” often cited in debates about bias in fare policy towards longer commute journeys and against the type of travel more common to the un- and under-employed.
Transfer rules across the GTHA should be part of any “fare integration”, and yet the topic has been completely ignored in Metrolinx work to date. Metrolinx sloughs off the topic claiming that these are local policies, not regional issues, forgetting that regional planning is impossible without considering local effects.
During the update presentation, TTC’s Deputy CEO Chris Upfold noted that the TTC network is an integrated design with free movement between routes and modes. Josh Colle gave as an example the St. Clair streetcar which runs directly into two subway stations and talked of how the system would have to be “de-integrated” to accommodate a separate fare for subway travel.
Metrolinx Chief Planning Officer Leslie Woo replied that the concepts in the study are only for analysis with a business case, economic and operating impact studies to follow. Considering how long the study has been underway (see main article), one might think that economic and operating impacts would have been an integral part of early analysis to determine whether options were viable. Instead, Metrolinx forged onward with its preferred view of fare structures strongly leaning to a distance and class-based tariff ignoring the issues for transit operations, not to mention the potential effect on riders. Again, the blinkered view of an agency with relatively small ridership and a uniform demographic precluded consideration of the effect on an operation ten times its size serving much more complex travel patterns.
TTC Commissioner Shelley Carroll asked about reports to come in fall 2016, and their implication for actual implementation of new fares. Woo replied that Metrolinx is very open to meeting with area Councils, agencies and transit management. That reply dodges the basic problem that Metrolinx has acted as the gorilla in the room in its dealings with local transit agencies, and the threat of losing provincial subsidy always hangs over municipalities who don’t sing from the Metrolinx songbook.
Chris Upfold stated that the TTC Board and Toronto Council need to take a position on fare integration. He suggested that this cannot happen until something is actually proposed, and nothing is going to happen to fares within 2016. That’s all very well, but Metrolinx history shows that once a proposal emerges from staff, it acquires the endorsement of a provincial agency and is cast, if not in stone, in very fast-setting concrete and is almost impossible to change. Toronto needs to understand what a new tariff would actually look like in order to take an informed position. Otherwise, the process is nothing but endless rounds of approving “principles” that could have far-reaching effects. “Equity” to one person might mean time-based transfers (in effect limited-time passes), while to another might mean fares charged by distance and class of service.
“We can leave the decision to later” is a recipe for Metrolinx cooking up a tariff and claiming that Toronto (or other cities) don’t object when the process precludes such objections until after the tariff is fixed. This is the same cart-before-horse process we see in transit project assessments (mini-Environmental Assessments) where early decisions discard options that are almost impossible to reinstate later even if the early work is shown to be flawed or outdated.
Metrolinx Board Member Iain Dobson asked why we couldn’t just “do something, somewhere” such as eliminating the Mississauga/Toronto fare boundary as a trial. Upfold replied that Presto would have to be in place for this (so that fares paid on one system would be valid on the connecting legs of a journey), and that there would be a need to fund such a reduction in fares for the affected riders. The fact that both agencies have had paper transfers for ages and could simply adopt a policy of accepting each other’s as a valid fare seems to escape him.
TTC Commissioner Joe Mihevc noted that “fare integration” is one of those areas where the mandates and outlooks of the regional and local agencies and councils will not align. Toronto residents may not be happy with using the TTC to support lower fares for the 905.
Metrolinx Chair Rob Prichard opined that a $40 million cost to provide an integrated fare is not much of a problem. He should talk to his good friend, John Tory, for whom this amount is more than a 1% tax increase, and who has torpedoed much less expensive transit initiatives through TTC budget cuts.
TTC Vice Chair Alan Heisey remarked that Toronto already subsidizes the 905 by about $50 million annually through the TTC operating subsidy, and Commissioner Rick Byers reiterated that the TTC already has the lion’s share of the region’s transit ridership.
Prichard ended the discussion saying that we don’t know what the right answers are now. One might ask “why” considering how long his staff have been working on the question.
In the media scrum following the meeting, Josh Colle was asked whether subway riders should worry that their fares are going up. He replied that, no, this should not be a concern and gave as strong an indication as any we have seen to date that the whole “subway fare zone” concept is dead in the water. It is amazing what a little political realism can bring to a debate.
As I have said in other forums, I would love to attend a public meeting where the Scarborough MPPs and Councillors (not to mention the well-meaning social activists on the Metrolinx Board) explain to their constituents how they will get a shiny new subway, but will have to pay more to ride it while commuters from Markham enjoy lower fares.
Original article (April 25, 2016):
The TTC and Metrolinx boards will meet in a joint session on the evening of April 27, 2016. Among the items to be discussed is an update on the Fare Integration study that has been underway for some time between these agencies and other GTHA operators.
Based on discussions at recent Toronto Council and TTC meetings regarding the “motherlode of reports” that will hit Council in June on a wide variety of transit issues, one might have expected something definitive about Fare Integration. Alas, this will not be so as the projected date is now in fall 2016. That poses a challenge for discussions of SmartTrack (ST) which depends strongly on integration with the TTC network and fare structure for its attractiveness. Of course, given that ST has dwindled to no more than a few stations added to what the GO Regional Express Rail (RER) would provide anyhow, the point may be moot. However, as long as we pretend that ST is a going concern, then its fare structure remains an issue for debate.
Chris Selley in the National Post wrote recently about the importance of Fare Integration and the political minefield it represents. Recently we have seen just how badly Metrolinx can screw up its planning with the botched implementation of the UPX service to Pearson Airport. The idea of Fare Integration has been around for some time, but discussions have always been quite general on matters of principle and general concepts with no explicit examples of how various schemes might affect riders or subsidy requirements.
It is worth reviewing the history of reports to the Metrolinx Board on this subject.
December 2013 : Fare and Service Integration Work Plan Overview
This report claimed an aggressive schedule:
- Winter 2013/14:
- Global Practice Review
- Needs and Opportunities
- Summer/Fall 2014
- Quick Wins
- Summer 2014
- Regional Service Structure
- Fall 2014
- Fare Policy
- Fall 2015
- Service Implementation Strategy
- Fare Implementation Plan
It is now Spring 2016 and we do not even have a fare policy yet beyond general principles let alone any definitive tariff proposals or implementation plan, or at least nothing for public consumption.
December 2014 : Status report includes mention of a September 11, 2014 Metrolinx Transit Leaders Forum that included “discussions on harmonization of concession fare policies across the GTHA”. That is hardly a fully worked out fare policy.
(The only mention of a regional service structure in reports since 2013 has been occasional reference to integration of cross-boundary paratransit services. Nothing has been reported on “regular” transit integration.)
March 2015 : Toward a Regional Fare Policy : This report reviews the major themes that would emerge with more detail over the next year on various fare options. At this point it was quite clear that Metrolinx was heading toward some form of zoned or distance based fares including provision for different classes of service. Although there were few specifics, there were some overall principles:
- Governance and fare setting responsibility
- Role of municipal transit providers and municipalities
- Phasing-in and transitional options and costs
- Stakeholder concerns, including the impact of the options on various customer groups
Current Evaluation of GTHA Fare Models
- Assess suitability to the GTHA using high-level indicators
- Examining four base models and two hybrid scenarios
- Evaluate impacts of each model using current transit networks by identifying impacts on fares, fare revenues and ridership
- Select two options for further analysis
- Further detailed analysis using GGHM model, including RER operations, future land use and more extensive service integration
- Develop Business Case Evaluation and determine preferred fare policy / structure
- Assess potential fare structures in the GTHA context
- Use the analysis to inform the RER analysis
- Develop a stakeholder engagement plan
- Report back with more detail in summer 2015
Of particular interest are the points about fares, fare structures and revenues. Nothing produced to date has addressed these issues.
June 2015 : A status update at this meeting reported:
- Evaluation of alternative GTHA fare strategies is underway, refining the list of alternatives previously developed. A meeting of the Technical Advisory Committee of municipal representatives in June will address the refined options and issues to consider in the evaluation.
- A progress update on Regional Fare and Service Integration is to be presented to the Board at this meeting.
However, if there was a progress update, there is nothing in the public agenda.
Meanwhile, over at the TTC it was clear that management was making provision for new fare structures and for a possible separation of fares for subway travel from the surface system. This took place with no discussion at Council about a new fare structure, and the entire SmartTrack debate continued on the assumption that a “TTC fare” for SmartTrack meant free transfers between all modes.
Over the course of various meetings, TTC and City staff have engaged in a bit of sophistry on this point claiming that a “TTC fare” would be whatever the then-tariff implied, and if there were service class based fares, then that’s what ST would have. This does not align with the fact that ST demand modelling has presumed the existing TTC flat fare structure with no penalty for changing between modes.
September 2015 : GTHA Fare Integration : By the time this report appeared, many fare structure options had been discarded. Most importantly, the concept of “multiple service categories” was common to all remaining options. This choice is essential to maintaining the relatively high cost (and associated cost recovery) of the GO Transit system. However, whether this should be extended “down” into local services including subways, LRT and BRT routes is quite another matter.
Explicitly rejected was “travel time” based fares, although Metrolinx has always claimed that the “time based transfer” is a separate concept from the actual fares, and that this would be a local option. Needless to say, this confuses the whole idea of a “regional” fare structure where a “two hour fare” purchased in York Region could be valid across boundaries.
- Metrolinx Fare Integration Study: Heading to a Foregone Conclusion?
- Metrolinx Fare Integration Backgrounders
The report concludes with:
Next Step: Detailed Analysis of Fare Structure Types
- The detailed analysis of the Fare Structure Types will address:
- Service categories, including number and which types of service to be included in each
- Fare structure for each service category
- Zone number and design (for applicable structures)
- Price structures
- Transfer policies
- Consultation with municipalities and other stakeholders and public outreach planned for key decision points
- Winter 2016: Consultation and outreach
- Spring 2016: Report to Metrolinx Board of Directors:
- Recommended GTHA Fare Integration (addressing fare treatment of service types, length of trip and transfers) as a potential transformational implementation
- Ongoing: GTHA agreements on concession definitions, fare products, concession discounts
The only “consultation and outreach” to date has been part of the joint City/TTC/Metrolinx planning presentations leading to the March 2016 Council reports. These contained no additional information on detailed analysis of fare structures.
Moreover, the only “Spring 2016” report to the Metrolinx Board we have seen to date contains no recommendations.
December 2015 : The only reference to Fare Integration is in a status update indicating that work with GTHA municipalities continues.
February 2016 : GTHA Fare Integration : This report contained more detail including the concept of three different types of fares related to distance travelled and service class, but still without worked examples to show what the actual effect of the proposed changes would be on specific fare levels.
- Metrolinx Fare Integration: Get Ready to Pay More For Subway Trips
- Metrolinx Fare Integration Background Study: February 2016 Update
- What Would Fare By Distance Mean For Toronto?
- What Is The TTC Policy on Fares?
The “Next Steps” section gives the tantalizing hope we might see specifics in the near future.
- January-April 2016: Consultation on concepts as input to evaluation
- January-May 2016: Concept Analysis and Evaluation
- Refinement of concepts (Impacts of different zone sizes, transfer policies, pricing structures)
- Evaluation of concepts using objective-driven framework
- June 2016: Report findings and preferred fare structure
- Summer/Fall 2016: Assess additional fare structure elements and implementation considerations
April 2016 : GTHA Fare Integration
This report continues the long series of updates which do not actually tell us what a new fare structure will look like and who it will affect.
Among the points noted in the report:
- Early estimates suggest that a discounted or free cross-boundary fare may result in 3-6 million new cross-boundary transit trips yearly
- Early estimates suggest that a discounted or free transfer between GO and TTC at current GO fares may generate between 0.7 and 2 million new transit trips annually at current transit service levels.
This is not exactly a vast increase in transit trips relative to overall TTC demand, and moreover it does not speak to the savings, such as they might be, for the 42m riders who already make this type of journey. That, of course, depends on what the new tariff looks like, and if the tariff affects existing inside-416 TTC riders, the effect is on a much larger scale than the cross-border commuters. Those “early estimates” imply that fare integration would add from 3.7 to 8 million new transit trips, but with the important caveat “at current transit service levels”.
The primary beneficiaries of fare integration, at least in the short term, would be existing riders, but improved service could be expected to bring more. The obvious question is “who will pay for the additional service”?
The report goes on to talk about SmartTrack and RER talking about the need for competitive fares and full integration with the TTC network. Exactly what that integration would look like is not discussed.
A number of issues fall under “Key Considerations” and give some hint that the real world of TTC operations, system design and fare structure (not to mention political considerations) has finally intruded into Metrolinx planning.
A comprehensive evaluation framework, developed with extensive input from GTHA transit agencies, will be applied to evaluating fare structures. Aspects of particular interest in Toronto include:
- Customer Impacts
- Impacts on ridership, specific markets such as SmartTrack ridership, Line 1 subway capacity, etc
- Consistency of customer fare experience across the GTHA and on the integrated TTC bus and subway network
- Impacts on different trip lengths
- Implementation Practicalities
- Impact of tap-on tap-off fare collection system and transit operations
- Preservation of convenient intermodal transfers
- Supporting network design with bus feeding subway
- Financial Sustainability
- Revenue and ridership
- Funding arrangements
Over the next two months, there will be “optimisation and evaluation of concepts” including consultation with the public, transit and city management. A technical update to the Metrolinx Bune 2016 Board meeting will be followed by “Complete business case analysis and evaluation to determine preferred option” over the summer of 2016.
- Fare structure findings, reflecting input from the GTHA municipalities, including the TTC Board, will be presented to the Metrolinx Board in fall, 2016 for consideration as advice to the Ministry of Transportation
- Metrolinx and MTO will investigate the feasibility of implementation in consultation with municipalities, addressing issues such as
- Impacts on ridership and service
- Impacts on revenue and financial sustainability
- Impact on decision-making structures and governance
- An implementation plan will be developed by Metrolinx and MTO for review and decision-making by the Provincial government and municipalities.
From the UPX debacle, we know that Metrolinx is very good at ignoring the obvious until they are forced by external circumstances to wake up to the real world in which they operate. Does Queen’s Park propose that Metrolinx will implement a new structure by a provincial dictate, possibly backed up by a threat to withdraw transit subsidies if the municipalities don’t play along? That is, after all, how they forced the adoption of Presto by linking subsidies to implementation of their fare collection technology.
“Impacts on ridership and service” cannot be calculated without tariff proposals, and it is long, long overdue for Metrolinx to put something in writing on this score. How can municipalities possibly provide input about a new fare structure with no background on what it would look like, how it would be funded or how it would affect various types of trips within the GTHA? Metrolinx has gone out of its way during the entire study of fare integration to avoid specifics, probably because they know the firestorm that would result.
Who is responsible for this obfuscation? Metrolinx management? The Board? The Minister? The Premier?
With UPX it was clear that it suited an agenda somewhere for the real effect of the high proposed fares to be misrepresented as the result of careful research even when, as we now know, many consultant studies showed that the high fares would result in low ridership.
Can we trust Metrolinx to be honest about its fare integration plans?
So in “August 2016” we’ll get a report for consideration as advice for the MTO (?!) to investigate the feasibility of implementation in consultation with the municipalities that will go to Queen’s Park for review?
It sounds like this can is being kick past the next provincial election.
The $6.30 charge for York-Toronto trips is silly, the weekly GTA pass is $61. Definitely it’s a case of proof to support the decision rather than an evidence-based decision.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Realistically, what would the expected cost to the city be of having the province withdraw its subsidy? IIRC, the only ongoing subsidy is the gas tax revenue that was most recently in the M$90 range. Provincial subsidies for current projects (e.g. TYSSE) are nearly depleted, with the sole exception of hypothetical provincial dollars allocated to LRT, but the city seems to be unable to commit to actually using those anyway…
And at least if we weren’t stuck with provincial meddling, we could maybe even give Bombardier the boot! (Yeah, Siemens – for example – vehicles would be more expensive. Would they be more expensive than _not having_ streetcars?)
Steve: Actually the gas tax is about $160m annually. Part goes to ops, part to capital.
The inaction on fare integration has been extremely disappointing. It seems like this keeps getting studied without specifics as a delay tactic. So far, fare integration has been explored with a “revenue neutral” assumption. If it is to be revenue neutral, some will pay more and some will pay less. In other words, there will be winners and losers, and those riders that have to pay more will be outraged.
For fare integration to work, higher subsidies are needed so that cross-border and cross-system trips pay less. Such lower fares (for those who now pay double) can’t be squeezed into existing budgets: as it is, transit systems operate with a very low subsidy (relative to other jurisdictions).
The real problem is that Metrolinx and the TTC have their hands tied. They need more money to pull off fare integration, but they can’t make that decision. The politicians at Queen’s Park and City Hall ultimately decide how much money can be allocated. I suspect we will keep seeing studies and delays on this portfolio until there is enough political pressure to give the transit systems additional subsidies to integrate fares.
LikeLiked by 1 person
It isn’t just TTC that’s affected, it’s everybody. There was an article in the Hamilton Spectator today about concerns in that city’s government about what fare integration means for HSR and for the LRT line there and echoed those concerns for the other 905 municipalities that are getting LRT lines. Really, every transit system in the GTA using Presto is going to be affected.
A lot of system planning and fare policy planning that was formerly handled by the municipal transit systems and their respective city councils throughout the GTA, really much of the golden horseshoe, appears to have been lifted up and shifted into Queen’s Park via Metrolinx. This is concerning when you consider the governance model of Metrolinx as compared to the TTC, for example, and the track record involved here: ICTS, Presto, UPX, any number of construction projects that have been started but not finished, you name it. I can’t see how shifting control over almost every aspect of public transportation in almost the whole golden horseshoe region to some nameless, faceless group of people in Queen’s Park is a good idea. On the contrary, it leaves me deeply concerned.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Steve, correct me if I am wrong but did Josh Colle not suggest zone fares for fare integration? I recall reading a news report where he said zone fares would be a workable solution but that Toronto had to be it’s own zone for it work.
This really does seem like a viable if not the only option. Make each system their own zone and charge accordingly. Make transfers usable between zones and everybody wins. Distance based fares will never be an attractive option but zone fares might just be. Zone fares are easier for people to comprehend and are the feel good option so to speak. People are more likely to pay 6 dollars to go from Union Station to Oshawa Centre (which is roughly what the TTC/DRT fare is now) but not over 10 which is what GO charges for fare by distance to and from the same locations.
I am not saying fare integration will be easy but it has to be done right.
Steve: There is a catch-22 here. What you propose is almost what we have today, with the exception that there is no “co fare” or transfer arrangement across the 905/416 boundary, nor is there any fare arrangement with GO. Much of this “integration” exercise is an elaborate way to reduce fares for those riders without increasing the demand for provincial subsidy (a “zero sum” game). However, that cannot be done without raising TTC fares, and an excuse must be found to do this. It’s all a lot of planning mumbo-jumbo to disguise the fact that you cannot cut fares for one group of riders without raising fares for others. It’s clear Metrolinx knows this is a ticking bomb, and they have not published any specifics about what the new tariff would look like. By doing so, the whole debate takes place conveniently in a vacuum where nobody really knows how they will be affected.
It verges on dishonesty by lulling folks into thinking “things will be better for me”.
As for Josh Colle, he is saying, in effect, leave TTC fares alone, but won’t engage with the province at the hammer-and-tongs level needed to force Metrolinx to be more responsible in explaining the effect of their proposals.
The April report acknowledges that a double or extra fare is a disincentive to riding, and makes a projection of how many riders would be gained by eliminating double fares across the 905-416 border and by integrating GO and TTC fares. I wonder if Metrolinx will undertake the same exercise if a higher “rapid transit” fare is recommended, to determine how many riders will be driven away.
LikeLiked by 1 person
It strikes me that we have is a clash between two substantially different types of service and types of rider.
GO predominantly serves commuters that make the same trip five days a week (often down to the departure time). GO doesn’t have to worry much about transfers; the majority of their riders drive to the local station and work within walking distance of Union Station, and other than train-meet services any transfering is done with another agency. Transfers are (grudgingly?) facilitated where there is something “in it” for Metrolinx in allowing them to squeeze a little more out of the parking lot. Service is relatively infrequent, but it matters less because any waiting time is offset by travel time savings on a longer-distance trip. Between trains being designed more for comfort than for maximizing capacity, and high speeds and longer travel distances, higher fares (and fare zones) are supported by the public. The fare system is complex, but this is feasible because the network and ridership patterns are regular and straightforward.
The TTC serves a much wider variety of passenger types and markets, including discretionary and other irregular trip types and movements. Its entire network is built upon transfers, with an effort to make them as painless as possible. (This seems to get worse with each new generation of subway design as stations get larger and deeper, but at least it is a major consideration.) There is an effort to make schedules frequent, encouraging irregular and spontaneous travel — again, we might complain that budget considerations seem to trump schedule convenience, but relatively frequent service applies to most of the network during the peaks and much of the network off-peak. The subway has a modestly higher speed and attracts some longer-distance trips, but it is designed to serve a variety of trips (including off-peak trips, reverse-peak direction trips, non-downtown trips, and trips that use the subway for a handful of stops as a “bridge” between bus routes). Many surface routes serve a dual role as subway feeders and as line-haul routes in their own right. The network and ridership patterns are extremely complex, but this is mitigated by (and necessitates?) a simple fare system and policy.
This discrepancy illustrates much of what Metrolinx doesn’t “get” in the development of Presto and in the current fare integration issue. They are coming from a different institutional history and culture than TTC and the other 905 agencies. When I read the April presentation, the acknowledgement of things like facilitating intermodal transfers jumps out at me not as indicating that Metrolinx is coming around to local transit issues, but that there is now an additional author behind the presentation, representing an agency with a different institutional history, culture, policies and priorities. Everything up to now has been coming out of Metrolinx alone; the April presentation is jointly prepared by Metrolinx and TTC.
Finally, it strikes me that perhaps Metrolinx should be learning from the TTC in setting fare policies. The idea behind RER (and SmartTrack, to the extent it still exists) is that the GO rail network will have more frequent service that allows it to serve a much wider variety of trip types, purposes, directions and times, more along the lines of the way the subway is used. If that is successful, it’ll mean reverse direction trips, more discretionary and irregular trips, greater use of the rail network for shorter distances and/or non-Union trips — a small portion of the same complexity that the TTC experiences on the subway. It’ll mean having to rely on those rail-bus transfers, and shorter and non-Union trips will rely on having a local fare.
I still say that Metrolinx could avoid a whole lot of this dichotomy and complexity, and better manage their parking supply, by separating the cost of parking from the cost of a train ticket. As a thought experiment, what if GO trains had a time-based flat fare that was truly integrated with the other local agencies, and the existing distance-based portion of the fare was replaced by parking fees that increased the farther you got from Union Station? They would maintain the same overall fare structure for longer-distance commuters but would suddenly make the fare structure more attractive for reverse peak and shorter/intermediate type trips… and could better manage their parking utilization as well.
Steve: The portion of the April report that has a clear TTC outlook feels pasted on to what is at its heart the usual Metrolinx recitation of its work to date. Unless I see Metrolinx people, especially staff, speaking as if they have really internalized these issues rather then tolerating a TTC position they will later ignore, I will not trust the process now underway. The silver lining here is that Metrolinx blinkered view of fare structures creates problems that have finally escalated to the political level. Staff may have the most altruistic “professional” intentions, but there is a point where this can become self-serving and defensive when their theories are put to a real-world test. Avoiding the basic question — “what will my fare be” — for so long undermines the credibility of the entire process.
As for distance-based parking charges, your scheme might not be welcome by someone parking at Burlington for a trip to Hamilton. In a “subway like” GO network, we should not assume that every parked car represents a journey to Union Station.
LikeLiked by 1 person
While the whole region is affected, it boils down to Toronto paying more. The LRT line in Hamilton would not meet the definition of “express” or “regional” service. These are basically code words for “subway” and “GO Transit”. ICTS was definitely not Metrolinx and the TTC more or less were forced into the technology. The group is neither nameless or faceless.
I would flip this on its head. Have a set parking rate, but provide a discount based on how far you travel on the system. You could reduce both parts of the current fare structure while encouraging alternatives to the last mile (parking lots/structures are expensive).
LikeLiked by 1 person
Fare zones work best when there is a fare zone overlap. For example, the fare zone overlap could be from Hwy 7 to Sheppard, or smaller like 14th Avenue to Finch (if greedy). The key of fare zone is to appropriately charge someone crossing two zones when they are covering a great distance, but not to charge someone $6 to go from the business park at Gordon Baker & McNicoll to their house at McCowan and Denison. If they could commute on one $3 fare, they would consider taking transit instead of driving but as is, they will not.
Same thing with those who might live near Kipling and Rathburn and work at Matheson & Dixie. It makes no sense to penalize them.
Don’t get me started on the more minute overlaps like Winston Churchill & Dundas residents going to school at Sheridan College in Oakville!!!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Neither zones or fare by distance make any sense when our main problem is over reliance on cars. People who are not able to live near where they work should not be punished for their choice to take transit. I know it’s not on the table because of provincial stinginess, but I would like to see a subsidy increase and a flat GTA wide fare.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I have been saying this message for years. To summarize what is on the page:
There ought to be a common base fare, which is likely the largest obstacle to overcome, with a two-hour time-based transfer privilege. Each agency is a separate zone, and an agency is free to sub-divide itself (as YRT has with its three zones).
Boundaries between zones should be about 2-4 km wide. Again, since YRT is the only GTHA with its own zones, it is the example of how this should be done, along with Sjors’s example.
The cost to continue travel completely into another zone should be a zone upgrade, not a whole other fare. Again, YRT does this with an additional $1 for each boundary completely passed through. However, unlike the YRT implementation with Presto, the zone upgrade should automatically be charged when one taps on a new route once in the new zone. Currently with YRT, one must ask the operator to hit the “2-zone” button, either when boarding in the new zone or at the initial board time, to pay the $1 upgrade. Should one tap on a vehicle that is in a zone while one’s Presto card has a valid fare from another zone charges one a brand new fare.
GO should be treated as a premium express service, but the fare within GTHA zones should be the equivalent fare plus one additional upgrade. For example, travel from Newmarket to Union would involve the base fare plus two upgrades if done using YRT and the TTC, but on GO it would be the base fare plus three upgrades.
Finally, an agency can offer a “city saver” fare that is lower than the regular base fare, but only has 60 or 90 minutes on it, and cannot be upgraded for use in another zone.
IMHO, this attempts to strike a balance between long distance and short distance transit users. One should pay more if they use more transit, but not be charged an amount that discourages transit use, while short distance users should not feel they are subsidizing the longer distance users. We won’t make it perfect, but can anyone suggest an alternative that better reaches this sort of balance?
LikeLiked by 1 person
The plan sounds fine in theory, but it suffers from the same issue as Metrolinx reports to date. It uses vague terms to avoid saying who will pay. Is YRT “base fare” going to go down (more subsidy from whom: York Region, Toronto, and/or Queen’s Park?) or TTC “base fare” going to go up? If you have an “upgraded” fare below $6.10, who gets what part? It’s all of these details that will say who wins and who loses, both municipalities and riders.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I’m getting a creeping sense that the TTC is trying to determine which ridership group to sell out to the fare integration gods in exchange for Metrolinx cooperation in getting some kind of “SmartTrack” co-fare in place, preferably before the next election. Because realistically, if it were just about the 40M annual crossboarder rides, or the projected 3-6M new rides, you would have a hard time justifying why the TTC would be willing to mess with it’s existing customers to benefit a group that is smaller by an order of magnitude or two.
On a related note, why is peak-period pricing not being included in the fare integration study options? I know in Vancouver you pay a one-zone fare on evenings and weekends regardless of how far you’re traveling. At the very least that is something that GO should be looking at to build up its all-day service.
Steve: I think that time of day pricing fell off of the table because it will involve giving a significant number of riders a discount, and if the goal is to have a zero-sum outcome, or only minimal added subsidy cost, that’s a non-starter. Don’t forget that 60% of TTC travel is off-peak. A discount at that time would require an offsetting peak increase that would not play well with those who are forced to travel at peak times by their work, school or family schedules.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Most certainly the details have to be seriously looked at. There are two sides to fare integration: how it would work for the riders, and how it works financially. My proposal deals with the first, as everything I have seen in this regards amounts to nothing but wheel-spinning. E.g.: “we should just have one flat fare” -> “that’s too expensive to implement or it has short-distance riders subsidize long distance riders”; “we should have fare by distance” -> “it would discourage longer commutes from using transit”; “we should have fare by distance on rapid transit lines”… and on it goes.
The other side of fare integration requires us to have a serious look at what function transit plays in our society. By this, I mean dealing with questions such as is it to be a means of transportation for those who cannot afford car ownership, or is it to be a more efficient method of moving everyone? Does transit exist because it is a “necessary evil” or is it part of an overall plan to reduce greenhouse gasses?
With questions such as these and others answered, the question of how it is valued and how much we are willing to pay for it can be addressed. Then, we can get to what level fares should be and how the revenue they generate should be split.
LikeLiked by 1 person
People suggesting different fare levels for different levels of service – i.e. bus vs. subway – are people
1) who have never taken public transit seriously in their lives; or
2) have worked at a transit agency for too long and get to ride for free and have internalized the agency’s cost structure too much and have forgotten what it’s like to pay for transit as a customer.
A TTC bus, a TTC streetcar, a TTC subway, a TTC LRT in the future – are all the SAME service. We have different modes because we have different needs for capacity on different routes, and whatever else. There is no bus going on Bloor that I can take instead of the subway – there is no “competition” between buses/streetcars and subways/LRT, to justify a price difference. Riders cannot choose in many cases which mode of transit they will take (I am talking about using transit for actually usefully going from point A to point B, yes I know I can theoretically construct any number of routes using just the bus system, but that’s idiotic – whoever ends up saying “yeah the subway should be more expensive since instead of taking it from Islington to Kipling, you can take the Islington bus north to Eglinton, then get on the Eglinton bus west, and then get again on the Kipling bus south and get to the same place just by bus” is a moron, plain and simple). Therefore any segmentation of subway away from the surface routes is plain idiocy, and is a case of someone looking at the supply side too much (the “subways cost more so they should be more expensive” argument).
I’m sorry to use such strong language, but really, who comes up with such ideas?
Something which can be introduced to incentivise transit yet make it more “fair” could be – the short distance ticket. This exists in many places, and is not related to zones (even in a zoned system, there can be a “standard” or “long-distance” ticket and a “short distance” ticket for the same zone). For example, at each stop there a is a list of stops which you can reach from that stop using the short distance ticket. The ticket, when printed/validated, is stamped with the stop of origin, so an inspector/driver can check its validity. Imagine a short distance ticket which costs say $1.50 (adult) – this would encourage people to take short, local trips, which otherwise don’t make sense to them with the full ticket price (assuming they don’t ride often enough to buy a metropass). So if you take the bus for less than 10 stops say, or the subway for less then say 4, you can do it with the short distance ticket. If you lowered then the metropass price a bit, you could then raise the “standard” or long distance ticket price somewhat, thus making the payment to the system “more fair” for occasional users.
Steve: The fundamental problem in all of this is that Metrolinx wants to “integrate” fares, but it also wants to justify continuing its discriminatory tariff for GO operations. Rather than address this issue, they want to bring the subway into the realm of “rapid transit” premium fares. They have completely ignored the network structure and the tight integration of subway and surface routes in the TTC’s network design.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Well, here’s an idea – besides the regular metropass have a “GO metropass” which allows you unlimited GO travel within Toronto (e.g. Union to Kipling and whatever) alongside the regular TTC service. Make it $10 more expensive than the regular metropass. I’m sure that people for whom taking the GO within the city makes sense and saves a lot of time will gladly pay the $10 extra. Anything more than that (seeing how ridiculously expensive the metropass already is) I don’t think will fly. Obviously, if you’re coming from say Mississauga, the “GO metropass” will be more expensive (and also include Miway).
Similarly, if the “plain” TTC single ticket is $3.25, the “TTC+GO” single ticket can be say $4.50. If you only have the “plain” metropass or a transfer given based on a “plain” ticket, if you want to transfer to GO, you have to pay the extra $1.25 per trip as a surcharge (this is easily doable with Presto).
Ideally all rates would be flat regardless of transportation of mode, but if they’re dead-set on keeping GO more expensive, the above would be acceptable. Just leave the goddamn subway out of it please. The TTC subway as a “premium service”. Right. I don’t know whether that makes me want to laugh or cry.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Part of what’s lacking in the conversation is what percent of revenue is off-peak. If 50% of the off-peak travel is by pass, then the discount would be half as expensive.
The zero-sum game is forcing a lot of bad decisions on possibly faulty evidence.
Steve: There is a similar miscalculation of the cost of time based transfers. One thing to be taken into account, of course, is that if there are new fares that provide lower cost travel one way or another, then the pricing of passes as we know them has to change too including the question of whether formal “pass” prices, or simply capped fares by time interval are the best approach. In all of this, the direct link between a payment and a specific trip gets weaker and weaker, and transit has to be thought of as a service consumed in bulk at a fixed cost.
Some of these schemes work at cross-purposes. For example, an off-peak fare might be intended to shift travel away from the peak, but a capped or all-you-can-eat pass would not.
The issue is that all the reports to this point have answered the big-picture pie-in-the-sky questions that transit is integral to our transit future, but none of the big-picture dirty-detail questions of who should pay how much (single system user, multi-system user, municipalities, province, federal). By integrating fares are we integrating answers that the funding level and transit solution for York (higher fares and higher per rider subsidy, but lower total subsidy) is forced on Toronto?
There are obvious points of fare integration: TTC/GO co-fare (paid by Queen’s Park) and TTC/905 2-hour free transfer (paid as a balance of payments between systems such as the 905 currently runs). Then, if you have a 2-hour transfer between TTC/905, it would make sense to have a 2-hour TTC/TTC transfer. I assume the 905 would pay more to Toronto for lost revenue, and possibly enough to cover the internal shift to 2-hour transfers. A modestly higher subsidy from each system would cover the lost cross-border revenues (say $10-30M for TTC).
Steve: The problem with your “modest” subsidy is that it represents a 1% property tax increase for Toronto. Much less ambitious service improvements have been killed for less.
So basically, you want GO to shift from $440 a month to $10 a month for regular users? That’s a pretty steep discount. Is TTC going to cover the difference or is Metrolinx underwriting it? At 40K daily users (number out of thin air), that would be a $206M subsidy per year…
LikeLiked by 1 person
That is absolutely correct. As a limited comparison, transit usage within a city is similar to the way blood circulates in a body, only it carries oxygen and nutrients between a source and a destination. At the core is a high capacity trunk that (pretty much) all has to use to get out to where lower capacity segments branch off, and even lower capacity branch off further.
The analogy does fail in two ways since there are no blood vessels of small capacity directly between different extremities or in ways that would allow bypassing high capacity trunk routes in a round-about way as there is with transit operations, but given a very significant number of transit users move between suburbs and downtown, the analogy is useful.
Absolutely, which is why it is the fifth component of my fare integration proposal above (I used the term “City Saver fare”).
I would suggest this all depends on whether Metrolinx continues, as Steve put it so well, their “discriminatory tariff for GO operations”. In my proposal, the GO fare would be one zone upgrade greater than the same zone total for the length of the trip using non-GO operators.
If Metrolinx/GO maintains their discriminatory tariff, I would like to see what I experienced when I was in Oslo a few years ago on business. I needed to take a commuter train from a further-out suburb where I was staying to a not-so-far-out suburb where the customer was, but I needed to catch a bus from there to their office. The weekly pass I had for the commuter train provided me with free access to public transit at either end or in between the two zones the commuter rail pass was good for. I know, this is wishful thinking!
LikeLiked by 1 person
$440/month will get you from Union Station to Barrie, but that isn’t even relevant. GO is not out anything in this scenario unless additional service is required because of that change. The marginal cost is otherwise zero.
A $10 a month fare surcharge does also not at all mean that GO only earns $10. They can negotiate with the TTC to have 50% of the revenue from these passes. Or 20% or 80%, whatever. The pass could also be $20, or $30.
The point is that it would never cost GO anything remotely close to $440/month per rider. Even if extra service is required, that “loss” assumes riders will fill a train to capacity, ride to Bloor, get off, and then the train will run empty to Kitchener. 20 times a day.
This is exactly the kind of “our way or it’s impossible” manipulative rhetoric Steve has identified at play in transit agencies in Ontario.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Exactly. When I spoke of the $10 surcharge, I meant only within the city of Toronto – let’s call that “zone 1”. If you’re commuting from Barrie (zone…5+?), the “GO metropass” would obviously be a lot more expensive (and it’s questionable whether you really need it, as you’re likely to be withing walking distance of your GO station when you get off to go to work).
With fancy electronic systems like Presto, basically every passenger’s behaviour can be tracked – it should be relatively straightforward to determine whether owners of “GO metropasses” spend most of their time/distance travelling on GO or on the TTC, and then from that figure out a fair way to split the revenue from the “GO metropass” between GO (Metrolinx) and the TTC.
The problem is that this is not possible without extra service. What type of service and times are you talking about? Off peak there are only the Lakeshore and Kitchener services and they can probably absorb some extra riders but if we get EMUs every 15 min. with 4 car trains you will be pushed to get get everyone on. If you are talking rush hour then there is really no room on most trains; someone has to pay for the extra service.
Sure, a majority of TTC travel is off-peak, but the same is absolutely not true of GO, and I would wager that most 905/TTC trips are on-peak. It would be a solid step to building new demand patterns (especially for GO as they ramp up all-day bidirectional service) to offer cross-boarder fares at a lower price to non-commuters.
Steve: This is probably true, but it is another example of how a fare “incentive” for GO travel could be completely contrary to what the TTC could actually absorb. If the goal is a one-size-fits-all tariff, off-peak fares run aground quickly.
LikeLiked by 1 person
What amazes and, simultaneously, saddens me is that here on his blog, Steve provides detailed analysis of the Fare Integration issue “for free” (i.e. no Consultant fee to the City), as he has previously on too many occasions to count.
Then we have folks from various walks of life, whose involvement in public transit may range from “professional” (transit staff, vehicle driver, etc.) to purely “functional” (use transit to [try to!] get around), to somewhere in between. They help provide the comments and discourse and clarifications in this public forum, with suggestions about what might work and what might not.
And then we have the “other” professionals (politicians, TTC Board members and government functionaries) who can’t seem to figure out what actually happens live, on the ground, every day in the real world or to see (by running beta versions/simulations of their wonderful ideas – or maybe talking to front-line staff) what might actually happen under varying circumstances. Heck, I’d wager some (many? most?) of them have likely never ridden on public transit in the GTHA since they were hired/elected to understand what the Average Joe/Jane deals with on a daily basis and why “Take The Car” is a favourite slogan of some….
And yet it is these last people who make the actual decisions – in a virtual vacuum it seems or up in the ivory towers; decisions that will impact the lives of so many for the present and for decades to come. And these decisions seem to be made for the most selfish, self-serving, publicity-driven reasons, though voters and citizens will be told it is “in their best interests”….
One might argue, “Free advice is worth what you pay for it” but I would counter that the content of this blog and the subsequent discussion with all the different points of view, is more than worth listening to and considering, if those who make the decisions actually want to do so in the best interests of those they are supposed to be serving (and for which they *are* getting paid)….
Also, while some of these “other professional” folks *might* read Steve’s blog – and with those individuals, that’s likely preaching to the choir – ensuring that all these wonderful ideas are not merely pixels on a screen in the current political environment (never mind under the previous city administration) remains a challenge.
Margaret Atwood said, “Democracy is the hardest form of government to maintain.” Thank you, Steve, for maintaining this open forum and keeping the transit file top of mind for us, the readers/contributors. It gives ammunition with which to shoot down unfounded and illogical transit-unfriendly points of view and helps to educate citizens about the importance of open, honest discussion to keep transit moving forward in the region into the future.
Steve: You’re very welcome!
This got me thinking about “pet projects”, “dog in the fight”, and “white elephants”. So many amusing combinations.
The strongest dog just might beat out the elephants. In a dog fight, only the parts of the elephant that fit in the ring can participate. In an elephant fight (was this ever a thing), we’re slapping a paint of coat on our mutt and calling it white. Maybe Tory’s elephant will give birth to a litter of puppies.
The issue is that we’re doing so much concurrent planning, so we’re making decisions that are interrelated without knowing the outcome of the others. June will be the Infill Station Analysis. I doubt that Metrolinx is sharing advanced findings before then.
Steve: Even so, the alternate station analysis has been around for a few years, and it was no secret that the Spadina Yard station is a good fit. That this did not influence the RL alignment study of which Metrolinx is most certainly aware shows that the co-ordination problem is not just between province and municipality, but internally in Metrolinx too. It becomes frustrating when only the “fans” seem to have the “big picture”.
Coordinating with Metrolinx is like wrangling cats. You kind of have to know what to look/ask for before you start.
Maybe it’s the personal relationships, but coordination is hard work. Everyone is comfortable within their own bubble and it’s up to the other side to relate their key issues. For GO the linchpin is Union Station; for TTC it’s Yonge-Bloor. GO uses AutoCAD; TTC uses MicroStation. We almost need a crown agency in charge of Information Archiving/Sharing.
As it stands, you’ll get one set of information and then things might completely change direction without you being informed.
I would support this by saying, just because you get the second-hand advice for free, doesn’t mean someone hasn’t paid for it. I know my charge-out rate is now something obscene like $140/hr. Much of the expertise that I can share has been paid for by Metrolinx. The other part has come from osmosis from Steve and others here.
I know that the working presumption of fare integration is that it must be revenue neutral. With the varying subsidy levels for the each of the local transit agencies, it adds too much complexity and will result in “winners and losers.”
If it is a provincial objective to enhance inter-agency transfers, then for a time it should be incumbent on the provincial government through Metrolinx to supply some financing to improve the situation.
A suggestion would be for any inter-operator transfers using Presto, for the second leg of the journey, the customer would pay the full fare but receive a flat rebate (perhaps $2) from Presto (subsidy from the provincial government).
At least with this approach:
Relatively easy to understand and use (once Presto is rolled out on TTC).
Allows local agencies to at least receive the full fare for each ride.
Should drive additional ridership growth which the agencies can plan for.
The amount of the rebate/subsidy could be adjusted in future years. For example, perhaps $3 ends up being the ideal rebate to drive ridership growth.
In later years, once the ridership volumes are stable and there are hard numbers in terms of the volume of inter-agency transfers, then perhaps the subsidy could be readjusted with an expectation that the local agency would need to pay for part of the rebate (e.g., 50 cents out of the $2).
The last time I was in Chicago they did not issue transfers between surface vehicles or between surface vehicle and the El, but since the El trains shared platforms there were free transfers between them. However you could buy a day pass for about the cost of two fares and it was good for 24 hours. If you first used it at 9:42 on Tuesday it was good until 9:41 on Wednesday. It was a magnetically, I think, encoded card.
I did a little historical research online.
The GO Transit lines were almost without exception direct successors to CN passenger services. They appear to have had continuous passenger service since the railway lines were built on the following lines:
— Lakeshore West (as far as Oakville and Hamilton)
— Kitchener (as far as Georgetown and Guelph)
— Stouffville (as far as Markham)
It’s not clear to me but it looks like Lakeshore East also had continuous passenger service right up to the launch of GO Transit. And I can’t tell about the Richmond Hill line, but given that it’s CN’s intercontinental line I have my suspicions.
The Milton line is, by some standards, the newest line having had no passenger service immediately prior to 1981.
So really the Lakeshore route dates to 1882. (It’s due for a 150th anniversary celebration in 2032.) The commuting patterns on GO Transit are *old*, much older than the subway or the streetcars. The province was constructed around them.
Perhaps his tether is not that long.
While there’s truth to that I believe this is also to deliberately waste time and avoid meaningful discussions. Years ago at a Federal-Provincial PM-Premiers meeting the media could assist for 30 min. PM Mulroney asked the Premier of Nova Scotia to talk about his tie. The tie was with the coat of arms of the province and he went on for 30 min talking about the tie and tourism. Then the media were kicked out…
Regarding the 2-hour transfer, in Ottawa we have the 90 to 105 minute transfer (a mini-pass in effect) depending on time of day. Ironically for me as much as I don’t like Presto, once I calculated I was overspending by buying a monthly pass I switched to Presto and pay per passage and use this transfer all the time. I am saving money but my transit system is losing revenue (from me not buying a monthly).
Perhaps that’s part of the worry from management and also demonstrates once again that as long as we ask passengers to pay instead of funding transit from general revenues, agencies will focus on revenue instead of increasing the attractiveness of the system.
In the past I commented that this business of zones was probably a prelude to privatizing services. But I think I may have underestimated the fact that Metrolinx is not much more than GO bus and trains and Presto. Even then the trains and Presto are really operated by third party operators.
So executives do what executives do and create work and try to justify their existence. I just fail to see what is it that Metrolinx actually does as the real thinking seems to come from the Minister’s office.
It’s becoming clear however that «fare integration» is a euphemism for TTC passengers to pay more and for the other systems to pay less. It goes without saying that Queen’s Park won’t cough up a nickel. Fare integration requires no other technology but to accept each other’s transfers and passes. It’s only about revenue sharing or getting more money from somewhere that’s been the stumbling block.
Mr Upfold would have a fit in Ottawa, I can use my Ottawa paper transfer or Daypass or Presto on STO (Gatineau, QC) bus and vice-versa. Another Province!!! Wow how could that be? That’s another reason why I do not like Presto, it gives managers like Mr. Upfold a reason to hide behind technology (not that it could not be solved) and not do something. Just issue the bloody paper transfer!
Oh well one can dream?
The only true commuter trains were the 2 to and from Hamilton each day and the one train that ran outbound only up the Uxbridge sub to Markham. No inbound service was offered. I do not believe that any of the other lines offered commuter fares. CP ran the Havelock Budd inbound in the morning and outbound in the afternoon. My Uncle used to take this train into work until the day that the service stopped at which time he resigned as he was blind in one eye and was not going to drive into Toronto or Pickering GO.
I don’t think, not sure, that Mississauga accepts paper transfers from Brampton or Oakville. If you don’t have Presto you pay another fare. It might be something to do with their internal bookkeeping about how many fares are using the two systems.
Steve: I am speaking of what should have been possible years ago before Presto was even a gleam in a consultant’s eye.
To chime in with an example of paper tickets and fare integration, in the Canton of Zurich (Switzerland) they have total fare integration of all modes of public transport (buses, trams, trains, boats, cable cars) and they use (or used the last time I was there) 100% plain paper tickets. What I did notice was that the ticket inspectors had some sort of touchscreen devices with them, and were tapping away at them every time they looked at a person’s ticket. My guess is that they were recording which type of ticket they had seen, i.e. by whom it was issued, probably for the purposes of collecting some statistics that are possibly used for splitting the fare income. I didn’t ask, but that’s how it looked (the ticket inspector would look at a ticket, and then for a few seconds stare at his screen, as if he was looking for the correct option to record that ticket type).
It’s three or four years since I last rode transit in Chicago, but at that time there were magnetic-stripe stored-value cards. The first ride taken on a card was charged full fare; the second ride, if boarding less than two hours after the first, was discounted; a third ride within two hours was free.
I think the algorithm reset after that: next ride full fare even if within two hours, but the ride after that if within two hours of the full-fare ride, and so on.
I believe there were also contactless cards, but I’ve yet to spend enough time travelling around Chicago to find out about them.
Steve: The current CTA fare structure and payment options are listed on their site.