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GTHA Transit Fare Integration

RedRocket191

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As we all know, the current fare system in the GTHA has changed little in the last few decades. The TTC does not accept transfers from the 905 systems, requiring you to pay a second fare to cross the city limits. Also, while most 905 systems offer a discounted fare for passengers traveling to a GO station, the TTC does not.

Since many people live and work in different municipalities, we must build a fare system that encourages people to cross zone boundaries on buses and trains, rather than drive to park-and-ride lots at TTC stations. Integrating fares will improve transit ridership in the 905, as potential riders won't be dissuaded by the double fare at the city limits. Also, integrating the GO and the TTC fare structure will shift some subway riders onto faster GO trains improving capacity for everyone else.

Once the Presto Card is universally available and all agencies adopt a 2-hour unlimited transfer policy, what sort of fare model should we adopt? Using those assumptions, I have come up with a few scenarios for your consideration:

Better Business as Usual
Passengers will no longer have to pay a full fare when crossing the Toronto city limits. A 50% fare is charged if you wish to continue across the boundary. Passengers wishing to transfer between GO Transit and the TTC pay a reduced fare on the TTC portion of the journey, similar to the price offered by 905 systems. Travel between 905 systems remains free by exchanging transfers at the border.

While this is much more attractive than the current system, it remains slightly unfair to people heading only a few blocks across the boundary.

Regional Flat Fare
Passenger pay a universal fare and can travel anywhere in the Metrolinx operating area for two hours. This two-hour pass will be valid on any system, in any direction.

While this will likely bring the most ridership to the transit system, it will require increased subsidy from the government to keep the system financially viable.

London Model
Two fare systems are established. Subways, GO trains and Highway buses will use a fare-by-distance system, where the fare is calculated between the start and end of the trip. Buses, street cars, and on-street rapid transit (dedicated lanes on the street), will use a flat fare, where passengers can travel anywhere in the region for one fare. A passenger wishing to transfer between the bus system and the rail system will receive a credit.

This system better reflects the quality of service you receive from the transit system. Buses are slower, so you'll pay less. Trains are faster, so you'll pay more. But, this system requires us to improve bus services on routes like 97 Yonge in order to provide a low-cost alternative.

Full Fare-by-Distance
Every service in the GTHA uses a fare-by-distance model where passengers tap-on to start their trip, tap-off to end it, and have the fare calculated based on those two points - regardless of the agencies they used to make the trip. Longer trips within Toronto will increase in price, but short trips will decrease. Price protections will be used to ensure that any price increases will be reasonable, especially for longer trips within Toronto. For example, a trip from Long Branch to Malvern will not double, but it won't stay at $2.75 either. On the other hand, a trip between Bloor and Queen might be half of what it is now.

A variant of this system is used in most places in Europe and Asia, and Presto will allow us to implement it fairly easily. It is also the most equitable, as it charges people according to the amount of services they use. There are opportunities to lower the fare for short trips to the corner store, and there are opportunities to have a declining price scale, where long trips are encouraged by lowering the price increases as the trip length increases. However, this system will require GTHA riders to remember to tap-out - something that they aren't accustomed to. In addition, it will require every agency to install a Presto reader at every door where riders can disembark. This could be extremely expensive, but could also lead to all-door boarding on every vehicle.

These are just a few options, and I would like to get your views on which one would be best for the GTHA. Think of which system is best all-round - including value, ridership gains and subsidy required from the government.

Presto is pointless if it's just going to be an electronic method of payment for the same system we have now. It brings us an opportunity to develop a new fare system which fully integrates the transit system in a way that painting all the buses red simply cannot.
 

urbanfan89

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Option 1: No. We need to erase boundaries.
Option 2: Harmonizing fares is a good thing, but it would be unfair to charge everyone the same regardless of distance.
Option 3: We cannot allow a two-tier transit system, with the poor taking buses and the rich taking trains.
Option 4: Good in theory, but the logistics would be a hassle.

I'm still sticking with my Fare-By-Time idea.

All vehicles become all-door boarding, and on each vehicle there will be a tap-in machine and a single-ticket vending machine. This machine will give a paper ticket that is valid anywhere in the system for a set number of minutes, for different fares.

Once you exit the system, you tap off and a sum will be deducted from the card (if you have a pass then none of this matter, obviously). This sum will have a square root relation with the time between tapping on and tapping off. With paper tickets you can just let the ticket expire without tapping off.

If there are delays on the way, the driver can instruct the machine to dispense a slip to extend paper tickets, or give a discount to those with Presto cards.

Paper tickets could be discouraged by making them more expensive than Presto fares, to save paper costs.

Here's an example. Let's say for paper tickets the price would be this:

30 min $1.75
60 min $2.50
90 min $3.25
120 min $4.00

If you use Presto, the fare would be t^.5/3.3, where t is minutes. This means:

10 min $0.96
20 min $1.36
30 min $1.67
40 min $1.92
50 min $2.14
60 min $2.35

90 min $2.87

120 min $3.32

If there are delays, the vending machine would deduct, say, 10 minutes from the fare. If you fail to tap out, Presto will deduct the 120 minute fare.
 

RedRocket191

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Fare-by-time could be a viable option, but the computer should be able to bump you up into the next time block automatically and deduct the fare accordingly.

I can see problems when people underestimate the time the trip will take, even if it's on schedule. I frequently do, even when I've made the trip before, especially if York University and Rush Hour are involved.
 

Hank

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I've been riding the subways in Tokyo and Kyoto in the past week and a half and I'm amazed by how effective and efficient their fare-by-distance system is. I can understand that it might have a large cost associated with setting it up, but as for the other downsides we adapted to tapping in and out fairly quickly (we started by buying individual tickets but quickly found out that their version of a presto card - called Passmo - was the way to go), and easy-to-understand maps at each station made it clear how much it would cost to go where we wanted. There was also always the option of just buying the cheapest ticket and topping it up to the correct amount when you got to your station (we never used that option, but it's good to know that it was available for those that didn't want to figure anything out).

On another note, I also liked how some of the buses we took worked. They were also fare-by-distance, and you'd get a ticket when you got on with your boarding stop number and a board at the front of the bus updated at each new stop showing how much you'd have to pay if you got off at that stop for each different boarding stop. It made boarding quick, although it slowed down exiting (wouldn't be as much of a problem with two sets of doors and a presto card). This would also require much better stop labelling.

As far as I can see the only problem with a system like this would be the cost of implementation (not that that's a small problem of course, but other than that I can't really think of a single downside). If cost was no option I'd definitely go with fare-by-distance.
 

dunkalunk

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I could see a fare-by-distance system working if time was added into the equation. Something like: Fare=Flat Fare+Distance-(variable)time^2. Fares would be rounded to 25 cent increments.

Simple fare-by-distance billing only really makes sense on dedicated lines with high service reliability, which is why I would rather see a multi-teired system with flat rates for local bus routes. I for one wouldn't mind paying a premium for a faster service. I wouldn't expect a GO train to cost the same as the 501 streetcar, they are 2 entirely different types of service. As is the case during rush hour, it is almost faster to get to your destination on a bicycle than it is on a streetcar.

I also believe that lower income households should receive some sort of transit tax credit and there should be commuter discounts for people who commute using the same route every weekday like what exists with the current Oyster Card service.

And in general, borders need to be eliminated.
 

afransen

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"I also believe that lower income households should receive some sort of transit tax credit and there should be commuter discounts for people who commute using the same route every weekday like what exists with the current Oyster Card service."

We could do better--just credit their presto accounts. Alternatively, it is possible to apply different fare rates depending on the card (senior, low income, students, etc.).
 

RedRocket191

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Let me throw one more variable into the mix.

The current fare system is very easy to understand. Modifying it means rebuilding the entire populations notion on how fare payment works. Should we soldier on, or is the expense having to rebuild people from the ground up enough to throw a wrench into any new plan?
 

drum118

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Add to the mix is "Free Transit".

It would eliminate all fare collection systems; having no people to man the stations to deal with fare collection; companies to pickup and delivery cash; shorting fare media; printing of fare media; eliminates fare disputes for drivers and POP inspectors. This will save 10's of millions yearly that could be use for more service.

If we want ppl to get out of their cars and use transit, this would be a huge step forward. We need to set a goal and I don't see one where we have X riders on transit by X dates. We need to move to 60%-70% by 2030, not 35%.

How to pay for it?
There are numerous ways of doing it and it boils down to everyone pays for it. If you are a car driver, you will say this is a tax grab, but it becomes your choice to use transit or drive. 25% of the population will drive as they have no choice. They are delivery goods, sales people, live in one city and work in another where there is no real transit or just take too long.

Depending where you live and go to work, play, school etc, it is causing you anywhere from $1,000 to $2,700 yearly to use transit. If you have 2 or more family members doing the same thing, that a fair chuck of money.

#1
You could charge $1,000 per dwelling meaning current riders would see no different than now, but can travel everywhere at no extra cost. 2 or more family members would see a lot more money in their pocket to spend.

#2 you charge $x per square foot of dwelling space or land use. This would also apply to business. The wealthy would have a real bill to pay, but they they would not care since they want more traffic removed from the roads to allow them to travel faster to where they want to go too in the first place.

#3 All parking spaces would be charge $1,000 a spot yearly. If there is more than 2 car register to a dwelling, the firs car is free. The 2nd one cost $600, the 3rd would cost $1,200, the 4th would cost $2,000 and each extra car over 4 would cost $3,000 each. There are a lot of 4-6 car families. Over time, the number of parking spaces as well cars will drop and this will see a drop in revenue.

#4 No funding from the Fed's should be taken into consideration since no party has shown any commitment to have a real transit policy for Canada let alone Ontario.

#5 .05% sale tax and $.15 per liter fuel tax.

#6 A 2-3km radius from Yonge and Dundas location would be a toll zone

I don't support fare by distance as it gear toward to who can pay not everyone.

I do support a time fare with a top limit, but it has down side. 501 is a good case as where time could be longer than normal. Still require equipment to do the collections as well staff to enforce the policy.
 

Chuck

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Drum118, I agree that "haves" have an obligation to help "have nots," however, you can only tax the wealthy so much before they pack their bags and leave out of frustration. Should that happen, it would lead to a large reduction in the amount of taxes collected. I suggest that you revise your plan to be a little more fair to everyone.

I believe that the amount of revenue collected from motorists will increase by more than enough simply due to the natural effect of increasing gas prices. If 33% of gas prices are attributable to taxes, then governments are currently collecting 15 cents more per litre now than they were a year ago. Note that Metrolinx has for some time now been proposing that a new tax of 20 cents per litre be implemented to pay for transit projects.

Transit fares should be treated no differently from any other good or service - the more you use, the more you pay. Since distance is the easiest way of quantifying use, fares should be directly proportional to how far you travel. I would not object offering those with lower incomes a credit, however I would have no problem if the cost of travelling downtown from the suburbs was 10 times higher than if you started at Yonge and Bloor, so long as the cost increases linearly along the way rather than all at once at some random boundary.
 

RedRocket191

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I believe that the amount of revenue collected from motorists will increase by more than enough simply due to the natural effect of increasing gas prices. If 33% of gas prices are attributable to taxes, then governments are currently collecting 15 cents more per litre now than they were a year ago. Note that Metrolinx has for some time now been proposing that a new tax of 20 cents per litre be implemented to pay for transit projects.

The provincial component of the gas tax is a flat tax. They are not collecting any more revenue than they were years ago.
 

afransen

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Drum118, I agree that "haves" have an obligation to help "have nots," however, you can only tax the wealthy so much before they pack their bags and leave out of frustration. Should that happen, it would lead to a large reduction in the amount of taxes collected. I suggest that you revise your plan to be a little more fair to everyone.

I believe that the amount of revenue collected from motorists will increase by more than enough simply due to the natural effect of increasing gas prices. If 33% of gas prices are attributable to taxes, then governments are currently collecting 15 cents more per litre now than they were a year ago. Note that Metrolinx has for some time now been proposing that a new tax of 20 cents per litre be implemented to pay for transit projects.

Transit fares should be treated no differently from any other good or service - the more you use, the more you pay. Since distance is the easiest way of quantifying use, fares should be directly proportional to how far you travel. I would not object offering those with lower incomes a credit, however I would have no problem if the cost of travelling downtown from the suburbs was 10 times higher than if you started at Yonge and Bloor, so long as the cost increases linearly along the way rather than all at once at some random boundary.

In an ideal world where the TTC etc. had sufficient capacity to handle the riders, free transit would be great. The TTC does not. The $1.5 billion it would cost across the GTA to eliminate fares is better spent on system improvements. Perhaps when the GTA has a great transit system that has outgrown demand at the rather higher fare level.

In the mean time, the fairest approach would be fair by distance. I would also like it if future improvements to transit were chosen a little more impartially. Ie, set a cost per new passenger km for the improvement and chose the most efficient routes. I think it would also be great if there were an improvement tax to capture some of the substantial increase in property values along new subway routes. Many millions of dollars of value are created by the construction of such lines, and it amounts to a subsidy to the property owners along the line if some of the cost is not recouped through a improvement tax.
 

Chuck

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In an ideal world where the TTC etc. had sufficient capacity to handle the riders, free transit would be great. The TTC does not. The $1.5 billion it would cost across the GTA to eliminate fares is better spent on system improvements. Perhaps when the GTA has a great transit system that has outgrown demand at the rather higher fare level.

In the mean time, the fairest approach would be fair by distance. I would also like it if future improvements to transit were chosen a little more impartially. Ie, set a cost per new passenger km for the improvement and chose the most efficient routes. I think it would also be great if there were an improvement tax to capture some of the substantial increase in property values along new subway routes. Many millions of dollars of value are created by the construction of such lines, and it amounts to a subsidy to the property owners along the line if some of the cost is not recouped through a improvement tax.

I don't know... As land values increase, taxes increase anyway. Are you suggesting adding another tax on top of the already higher taxes paid by those near a new subway line? Either way, they only benefit from the increased value of their home when they sell; if someone sells their home 10 years after a subway is built, should they be paying this improvement tax during those interim years when they benefit in no way whatsoever (financially) from the new subway line? How do you differentiate the rise in land value due to the new subway line from increases that would have occurred anyway?
 

afransen

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The specifics would need to be hammered out, but this is one of the taxes that Metrolinx is examining. There certainly is a one time increase in land-value that occurs when an improvement like subway goes in. It's not overly unreasonable to tax this benefit. Alternatively, it could be assessed only on new developments over and above development charges. But then, it allows owners of single detached dwellings to make off like bandits when they sell to developers.

I forgot to mention in my previous post that the only portion of the tax that increases with fuel prices is GST/PST. The other taxes are fixed per litre charges. Thus, as the price increases, tax makes up a smaller and smaller proportion of the cost. Add to that the fact that the GST was reduced by 2 ppts...
 

Rainforest

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Rainforest

I like Option 3 (London style, fare by distance on trains / subways and flat fare on local routes). It eliminates the boundaries, is fiscally sustainable, and is easier to implement than full fare-by-distance or fare-by-time.

Option 3: We cannot allow a two-tier transit system, with the poor taking buses and the rich taking trains.

I disagree: using that logic, we should legislate that all groceries of a given type (say cheese) cost same per pound, and all clothing articles (say shirts) cost same per item, so that the rich gain no advantage over the poor.

However, I agree that people taking same route every day, commuting to work or school, should be given substantial discounts.
 

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