TTC Fare Policy Town Hall

On February 2, 2022, the TTC will hold an online Town Hall to discuss their soon-to-be-published 5-Year Fare Policy and 10-Year Fare Collection Outlook. Details are on the linked page.

This is part of ongoing consultation about the future of fares in Toronto, and it will inform both a progress report to the TTC Board in February and a Final Recommendation in May 2022.

One important aspect of this study is to look at fares and fare collection without the constraints of any specific system, and of Presto in particular, to determine what a new system should look like. If Metrolinx and Presto can compete on those terms, fine, but the policy will set a bar for all vendors.

It will be interesting to see whether the powers that be at Queen’s Park will let the TTC go with a new system, or like the Liberals did, threaten to withhold subsidies from the TTC if they don’t use the provincial system.

The TTC study is reviewing a range of fare models:

  • Existing fare structure including two-hour transfers
  • Free travel for all riders on all services
  • Full cost recovery by increasing existing fares
  • Remove the cross-boundary fare between York Region Transit and TTC. Riders would pay at the start of their trip on whichever system they boarded and ride for that fare.
  • Fare capping with daily, weekly or monthly caps. This would produce the same effect as a pass, but without the need to purchase one up front. If a rider took more than the “capped” number of trips in a period, the extra trips would be free.
  • Peak/off-peak pricing with higher fares for trips beginning during the peak period.

At the December 20, 2021, TTC Board Meeting, staff tipped their hand on a preferred option – fare capping. This option is simple to understand, and it extends the benefits of discounted travel to frequent riders without the challenge of deciding in advance and paying for a pass.

Other options under review include:

  • A review of concession fare groups and pricing
  • A loyalty program to reward frequent riders
  • Group travel discounts

From previous consultations, the TTC has learned five key points from riders:

  • The 2-hour transfer is considered to be “equitable and inclusive” for all riders
  • Age based concessions and the Fair Pass discount should be retained
  • Discounts should be extended for more riders for equity reasons
  • A single cross boundary fare would make this type of travel more affordable
  • Changes to the fare structure “require equity and access to continue to be foundational”

The political challenge will be to have a new fare system embraced by Toronto and participating GTA municipalities. Nothing is free, especially “free” transit, and there will no doubt be a robust debate about where funding for cheaper fares or extended discounts will come from.

The most important factor in any study like this is that options are all on the table rather than being excluded from the outside with a blanket “we can’t afford it” statement. That, among other excuses, helped to prevent the implementation of the monthly pass years ago, and worked against the two-hour transfer more recently. The decision on what we can “afford” is not management’s to make by filtering options in a study, but for politicians to decide based on where they want to spend tax dollars.

This study appears to be keeping the options open rather than settling on a “solution”.

There is a link on the TTC’s page to register for the Town Hall.