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GTHA Transit Fare Integration

TheTigerMaster

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MX has been talking about fare integration for 7 or 8 years now. Could they possibly move any slower on this?

Now obviously I completely support the idea of fare integration, but the fact that it's been progressing so slowly indicates that the government really isn't all that enthusiastic about it's implementation. Fare integration will cost GTHA operators money, and that money is either coming from the provincial government, or out of our fares. There is no zero-cost solution for fare integration.

The hesitation of QP and MX support fare integration makes me highly skeptical of any infrastructure schemes that are dependant on fare integration for success. QP can cancel fare integration with the swoop of a pen, eliminating much of the effectiveness of these multi-billion transit lines. Indeed, this very government eliminated the TTC-GO fare integration shortly after entering office.

In short, fare integration seems like a bit of a pipe dream until there is a fundamental reorganization of GTHA transit operations. Fare integration shoehorned into the current system will not be viable with any degree of certainty for the longterm.
QP has always been very trigger happy to cut operational expenditures for transit. We can look at cutbacks to the TTC and GO back in the 80s and 90s, which threw both organizations into tailspins they've yet to recover from. Or more recently, QP cutting operational funding to the Crosstown and Finch West LRTs, despite their contractual obligations to maintain funding. And as I mentioned above, the Ford government just cut GO-TTC fare integration funding.

Fare integration is an operational expenditure, and given QP's history with transit opEx I have zero faith in them to maintain any fare integration scheme into the long term. I'd take this idea more seriously if MX was structure as a federation as GTHA municipalities. Under that arrangement, each municipality (especially the 905 municipalities) would be heavily incentivized to support investment in fare integration.
 

ARG1

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MX has been talking about fare integration for 7 or 8 years now. Could they possibly move any slower on this?

Now obviously I completely support the idea of fare integration, but the fact that it's been progressing so slowly indicates that the government really isn't all that enthusiastic about it's implementation. Fare integration will cost GTHA operators money, and that money is either coming from the provincial government, or out of our fares. There is no zero-cost solution for fare integration.

The hesitation of QP and MX support fare integration makes me highly skeptical of any infrastructure schemes that are dependant on fare integration for success. QP can cancel fare integration with the swoop of a pen, eliminating much of the effectiveness of these multi-billion transit lines. Indeed, this very government eliminated the TTC-GO fare integration shortly after entering office.

In short, fare integration seems like a bit of a pipe dream until there is a fundamental reorganization of GTHA transit operations. Fare integration shoehorned into the current system will not be viable with any degree of certainty for the longterm.
It is taking a long time because as it turns out, dealing with an issue that involves the input of 6+ transit agencies excluding Metrolinx themselves to create a funding plan, and one especially annoying transit agency that can't risk losing any of its farebox revenue, yet refuses to be uploaded to the province isn't easy. The question of how to implement a fare integration system that leaves all transit operators happy, while not creating a huge financial duties disbalance as it turns out is much harder than building a new subway line that only directly affects one maybe 2 of these agencies.

Another part of it though is definitely pressure and the balance of power between agencies. Part of the reason I feel that offering price discounts worked so well in the 905 is because price discounts make it more likely that people who need to use the GO train are more likely to use the local bus to reach the GO station than take their car if it only costs 80c for the bus, meaning that Ride to GO services often end up as ways that 905 agencies can try to fill up more people on their busses and increase revenue, so fare discounts becomes something that benefits both GO and the local agencies. TTC on the other hand doesn't have such a pressure. Why offer a discount for commuters to ride the GO train, when they can pay the full fare cost and ride using your subway and your frequent bus network instead. Integration with GO as a result becomes more of a liability than a benefit to the cash struggling TTC, and when viewed under that lens, Metrolinx has a much higher need for fare integration than the TTC, so the balance of power is in the TTC, thus leading to fare reduction programs where Metrolinx realizes that the amount of money they have to spend to compensate for transferring passengers is far higher than the economic benefit.

The good news is that a lot of improvements have already happened, or might happen in the future. All of the 905 agencies honor each other's fares now, so you can transfer from YRT, to Brampton, to Miway without paying an additional penny, and TTC is finally looking into offering some transfer discounts for commuters transferring from YRT, so I don't think the complete pessimism is fully warranted. Plus with GO RER, there might finally be some pressure to get Toronto to accepting some form of fare integration, since the lack of fare integration means Toronto is looking at its citizens stuck on busses to save costs while 905ers ride on extremely useful corridors with high frequencies that could easily benefit Torontonians with proper fare integration.
 

TheTigerMaster

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It is taking a long time because as it turns out, dealing with an issue that involves the input of 6+ transit agencies excluding Metrolinx themselves to create a funding plan
It doesn't seven years to negotiate this. We could have fare integration tomorrow if QP opened their wallets. In lieu of that, fare integration means either higher fares or lower service quality (or both) for TTC customers. There is no free lunch.
 

ARG1

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It doesn't seven years to negotiate this. We could have fare integration tomorrow if QP opened their wallets. In lieu of that, fare integration means either higher fares or lower service quality (or both) for TTC customers. There is no free lunch.
Yes you could, but that would be fiscally irresponsible and frankly unfair to Metrolinx. Fare integration could actually be solved pretty easily if QP got its way and uploaded to TTC to Metrolinx like Doug Ford (and I believe the liberals as well but don't quote me on that) wanted. Unfortunately John Tory wants to keep control over the TTC, while also trying to get the province to fully pay for fare integration, which long term would benefit the City of Toronto. There is absolutely no reason why after GO RER opens, Toronto shouldn't partially pay for any fare integration.
 

TheTigerMaster

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Another part of it though is definitely pressure and the balance of power between agencies. Part of the reason I feel that offering price discounts worked so well in the 905 is because price discounts make it more likely that people who need to use the GO train are more likely to use the local bus to reach the GO station than take their car if it only costs 80c for the bus, meaning that Ride to GO services often end up as ways that 905 agencies can try to fill up more people on their busses and increase revenue, so fare discounts becomes something that benefits both GO and the local agencies. TTC on the other hand doesn't have such a pressure. Why offer a discount for commuters to ride the GO train, when they can pay the full fare cost and ride using your subway and your frequent bus network instead. Integration with GO as a result becomes more of a liability than a benefit to the cash struggling TTC, and when viewed under that lens, Metrolinx has a much higher need for fare integration than the TTC, so the balance of power is in the TTC, thus leading to fare reduction programs where Metrolinx realizes that the amount of money they have to spend to compensate for transferring passengers is far higher than the economic benefit.

905 local bus services are predominantly used to access GO services. It makes perfect sense for 905 operators to sign up for fare integration when their bus services effectively serve as a funnel into GO RER.

The travel pattern in Toronto are very different. Only a relatively small minority of TTC customers are using the TTC to travel to/from the Downtown core. This greatly diminishes the appeal of RER to Toronto commuters, as RER is designed primarily to facilitate trips to/from the Downtown core. On top of that, given the relative lack of RER stations in Toronto, the services will only appeal to those that happen to be in the catchment areas of one of the stations. RER isn't even going to be particularly useful to for those looking to travel across the city, due to the lack of through-running at Union Station, and the lack of stations in the North York area.

In short, even at full buildout and with fare integration, RER will only be utilized by a small portion of TTC trips, and thus fare integration will not be as appealing to TTC customers as it is to customers of 905-area transit agencies. I don't anticipate that most TTC customers would be willing to accept even a modest increase in their fares for RER fare integration (again, this makes sense given the vast majority of them will not be using RER on a regular basis)

Now keep in mind that I'm completely supportive of RER and fare integration. We just need to be realistic about its utility, appeal and limitations within the City of Toronto.
 

44 North

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It is taking a long time because as it turns out, dealing with an issue that involves the input of 6+ transit agencies excluding Metrolinx themselves to create a funding plan, and one especially annoying transit agency that can't risk losing any of its farebox revenue, yet refuses to be uploaded to the province isn't easy. The question of how to implement a fare integration system that leaves all transit operators happy, while not creating a huge financial duties disbalance as it turns out is much harder than building a new subway line that only directly affects one maybe 2 of these agencies.

Another part of it though is definitely pressure and the balance of power between agencies. Part of the reason I feel that offering price discounts worked so well in the 905 is because price discounts make it more likely that people who need to use the GO train are more likely to use the local bus to reach the GO station than take their car if it only costs 80c for the bus, meaning that Ride to GO services often end up as ways that 905 agencies can try to fill up more people on their busses and increase revenue, so fare discounts becomes something that benefits both GO and the local agencies. TTC on the other hand doesn't have such a pressure. Why offer a discount for commuters to ride the GO train, when they can pay the full fare cost and ride using your subway and your frequent bus network instead. Integration with GO as a result becomes more of a liability than a benefit to the cash struggling TTC, and when viewed under that lens, Metrolinx has a much higher need for fare integration than the TTC, so the balance of power is in the TTC, thus leading to fare reduction programs where Metrolinx realizes that the amount of money they have to spend to compensate for transferring passengers is far higher than the economic benefit.

The good news is that a lot of improvements have already happened, or might happen in the future. All of the 905 agencies honor each other's fares now, so you can transfer from YRT, to Brampton, to Miway without paying an additional penny, and TTC is finally looking into offering some transfer discounts for commuters transferring from YRT, so I don't think the complete pessimism is fully warranted. Plus with GO RER, there might finally be some pressure to get Toronto to accepting some form of fare integration, since the lack of fare integration means Toronto is looking at its citizens stuck on busses to save costs while 905ers ride on extremely useful corridors with high frequencies that could easily benefit Torontonians with proper fare integration.

This is such apologist crap. TTC refused to be uploaded? Well for starters it was just the subway, not the system. How would uploading only part of the system help integration lol? Realistically the Prov realized they either don't want to upload (because the $$ to provide that level of service) or can't (bc it's pretty f'd up to take a city's transit system...this isn't a war measures situation). So it's not Toronto's problem. And why is it taking eons and report after report from the Prov to figure out fare integration? Hm, obvious answer is that it costs a lot and they don't want to spend it. That's pretty much it, not exactly complicated.

Also that 'one annoying transit agency' carries more than all 905 agencies put together, times four. And that's including GO. Co-fares between 905 agencies is like peanuts relative to TTC and they're likely already heavily subsidized per rider so it's not a huge loss for the Prov.

GTHA-transit-systems-ridership2.png
 

TheTigerMaster

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Yes you could, but that would be fiscally irresponsible and frankly unfair to Metrolinx.
The Government of Ontario would be funding fare integration, so I don't see the issue here (MX is not the government; they do not fund anything).
Fare integration could actually be solved pretty easily if QP got its way and uploaded to TTC to Metrolinx like Doug Ford (and I believe the liberals as well but don't quote me on that) wanted
I don't see how uploading helps at all. If you upload the TTC, you still have to pay to operate all the busses, subways and streetcars. You'll still have to pay for maintenance. None of the costs associated with operating the TTC would vanish; they'd just be obfuscated. Under this scheme, fare integration would still have to be absorbed by the budget somehow (even if it's no longer labeled "fare integration").
Unfortunately John Tory wants to keep control over the TTC, while also trying to get the province to fully pay for fare integration, which long term would benefit the City of Toronto. There is absolutely no reason why after GO RER opens, Toronto shouldn't partially pay for any fare integration.
Well at this point we agree that fare integration costs money. This is just a debate about who should pay, which really isn't all that interesting.

Given that damn near all RER customers will benefit from TTC-GO fare integration, while only a very small fraction of TTC customers will see similar benefits, I'd say its only fair for Queen's Park to pick up the bill. Further, QP has way more fiscal capacity to absorb the costs than the City of Toronto. Fare integration would have a far greater negative impact on TTC/Toronto's budget than QP's.
 
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ARG1

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This is such apologist crap. TTC refused to be uploaded? Well for starters it was just the subway, not the system. How would uploading only part of the system help integration lol? Realistically the Prov realized they either don't want to upload (because the $$ to provide that level of service) or can't (bc it's pretty f'd up to take a city's transit system...this isn't a war measures situation). So it's not Toronto's problem. And why is it taking eons and report after report from the Prov to figure out fare integration? Hm, obvious answer is that it costs a lot and they don't want to spend it. That's pretty much it, not exactly complicated.

Also that 'one annoying transit agency' carries more than all 905 agencies put together, times four. And that's including GO. Co-fares between 905 agencies is like peanuts relative to TTC and they're likely already heavily subsidized per rider so it's not a huge loss for the Prov.

View attachment 311919
The deal the province reached with John Tory in terms of getting the City Council's approval of the Ontario Line was the condition that the province wouldn't pursue uploading the TTC. That's why discussion on uploading has stopped.
The Government of Ontario would be funding fare integration, so I don't see the issue here (MX is not the government; they do not fund anything).

I don't see how uploading helps at all. If you upload the TTC, you still have to pay to operate all the busses, subways and streetcars. You'll still have to pay for maintenance. None of the costs associated with operating the TTC would vanish; they'd just be obfuscated. Under this scheme, fare integration would still have to be absorbed by the budget somehow (even if it's no longer labeled "fare integration").

Well at this point we agree that fare integration costs money. This is just a debate about who should pay, which really isn't all that interesting.

Given that damn near all RER customers will benefit from TTC-GO fare integration, while only a very small fraction of TTC customers will see similar benefits, I'd say its only fair for Queen's Park to pick up the bill. Further, QP has way more fiscal capacity to absorb the costs than the City of Toronto. Fare integration would have a far greater negative impact on TTC/Toronto's budget than MX.
They wouldn't disappear, but it would make the prospects of fully funding transfers more digestible. When you control the entire system and have to pay for maintenance yourself, it makes the prospects of paying for any additional costs that would come from transfers a lot more reasonable. When you don't operate it, why would you have to pay for transfers when its a system that mutually benefits you and the municipality the other transit agency is run by? Fare Integration isn't needed right now, the need for Fare Integration will only begin to be a necessity when RER gets up in running, so Metrolinx effectively has 4 or more years to try and get some cost sharing go up.
 

dad pad

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I think one of the benefits of hypothetically paying for fare integration without controlling the entire system, from the province's perspective, would be not being responsible for billions of dollars of SOGR
 

afransen

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It's worth remembering that every single org involved (all the cities, regions and transit operators) are just extensions of the province. They are legal fictions invented for the convenience of managing the province's affairs.

It could be that fare integration won't be as politically difficult as is imagined. If it means that GO ridership explodes and the system is more rationalized, revenue will increase significantly. There will be broad support across the region for fare integration as it will benefit residents of the City of Toronto as well as 905er while providing better service.
 

AlvinofDiaspar

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They wouldn't disappear, but it would make the prospects of fully funding transfers more digestible. When you control the entire system and have to pay for maintenance yourself, it makes the prospects of paying for any additional costs that would come from transfers a lot more reasonable. When you don't operate it, why would you have to pay for transfers when its a system that mutually benefits you and the municipality the other transit agency is run by? Fare Integration isn't needed right now, the need for Fare Integration will only begin to be a necessity when RER gets up in running, so Metrolinx effectively has 4 or more years to try and get some cost sharing go up.

Metrolinx is literally the organization tasked with regional integration of transit - I am not sure why anything have to be "digestible" when that's literally their job. And the problem of fare integration is right now - I am not sure why it only becomes "necessary" when whatever or so-and-so is running. That sounds like an excuse.

It's worth remembering that every single org involved (all the cities, regions and transit operators) are just extensions of the province. They are legal fictions invented for the convenience of managing the province's affairs.

It could be that fare integration won't be as politically difficult as is imagined. If it means that GO ridership explodes and the system is more rationalized, revenue will increase significantly. There will be broad support across the region for fare integration as it will benefit residents of the City of Toronto as well as 905er while providing better service.

It is only politically difficult because no one - including the organization responsible for regional transit - wanted to eat the added cost. In the meantime, we are spending money doing generally useless stuff like free travel for kids under 12 which broadly speaking will only have one-off impacts - especially in the case of GO.

AoD
 

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