TTC Heads Toward Fare Capping, Flat Fares, No Zones

At its meeting of February 10, 2022, the TTC board will consider a report on the future transit fare structure in Toronto.

In May 2022, TTC management will present a final recommendation for the Board’s endorsement, but this month’s update takes us a considerable way along the road to a new structure transit fares. For the past two years, TTC staff have consulted with interested members of the public while following an overall policy framework approved by the Board.

Source: Advancing the 5-Year Fare Policy, p 15

The evaluation found, to no surprise, that no fare scheme can achieve all of these goals, and in particular “financial sustainability” (for which read “no increase in subsidy”) and any change to make fares more attractive will work at cross-purposes. The idea that somehow new riders can be attracted in sufficient numbers to offset costs is a convenient fiction spouted by those whose real agenda is to cap spending, not to improve transit.

Many fare schemes were considered, and many were discarded for various reasons.

Those that survived to the final round of evaluation were:

  • Free fares
  • Full cost recovery
  • Fare capping
  • Aligning concession fares
  • Removal of the cross-boundary YRT-TTC extra fare
  • Peak/Off-peak pricing
  • Group Travel Discount
  • Reduce the TTC children-ride-free age limit to 5 from 12
  • Set the Senior concession fare to 20% of the Adult fare
  • Remove the Senior concession

Notable by its absence in this list is any form of fare-by-distance or fare zones. These options were dropped because of the inequity they would pose for riders whose trips tend to be long, but whose incomes are not high (residents of the outer part of Toronto).

It is no secret to readers of this blog that I have always supported the flat fare concept not just for its value to long-haul riders, but for its simplicity. Schemes that purport to make riders pay proportionately for their riding tend to increase the complexity and cost without a comparable or better return in making transit attractive. Indeed, the higher fares this would bring drive away the very trips, long journeys, that we do not want shifting to autos while giving a bonus to riders who make shorter hops typically “downtown”.

The fare policy report recommends that the TTC:

1. Continue to support the TTC’s existing fare structure, which includes the flat fare, free two-hour transfer across all modes and the Fair Pass and age-based discounts as the hallmarks of the TTC’s fare policy;

2. Endorse in principle the opportunities related to fare capping and aligning concessions across Fair Pass, Seniors and Youth as detailed in the Comments section of this report to inform the final fare policy recommendations that will be presented to the Board for approval in May 2022; and

3. Direct staff to forward a copy of this report to the Ministry of Transportation to restart discussions on reintroducing the Discount Double Fare (DDF), the TTC-GO Transit co-fare to offset Line 3 closures.

Source: Advancing the 5-Year Fare Policy, pp 1-2
Continue reading