Archive for the ‘Fares and Fare Structures’ Category

Presto Comes to YRT

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

August 13 update: There will be additional events to be held in the coming week. They will be at Richmond Hill Centre Terminal Tuesday August 16 and Wednesday August 17 from 1:00 pm to 6:30 pm. They will be at Finch GO Bus Terminal on Thursday August 18 from 1:00 pm to 6:30 pm, and again on Saturday August 20 from 11 am to 5:30 pm.

Correction to Autoload details: The threshold for triggering Autoload may be set between $20 and $60. The amount of the Autoload may be set between $20 and $1000. 

July 28 update: After a Presto card is registered, it may be used immediately. In order for it to be fully activated, one must either “tap in” or perform a balance query at a Presto terminal after 24 hours. This amount of time is necessary for the registration information to propagate to all terminals in the system in order for it to be delivered to your card. If you want to log into your card’s account online, you will need to wait another 24 hours from your first post-24-hour tap before that can take place.

YRT rolled out Presto on its buses and VIVA service on July 18. Over the past week, they have held events at Finch Station and Richmond Hill Centre to provide up to 5000 cards with the $6 issuance fee waived. For the price of $19 (cash only) you will get a card with a $19 balance on it and it will be registered on site. They are registering the cards  I had the opportunity to stop by Richmond Hill Centre to get a card and ask a few questions. Before getting into the technical details, let me say that the staff was very friendly and helpful, in particular Lori Bowers, YRT’s Public Relations Coordinator.

Currently on YRT, only the ticket fare is implemented. This means that when you “tap on” when boarding a bus or at a Vivastation, $2.60 will be deducted from your balance. They are working on implementing a monthly pass cap, but until that is in place they are recommending that people who are pass users continue with the pass. Despite this, if you use it for at least 32 fares in a single month from a single service provider, it is possible to get a receipt that may be used when filing your income tax return to get the transit tax credit.


Collecting More at the Fare-box

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Without getting into a discussion of what percentage of the cost of operating a transit system should come from the fare-box, I am interested in exploring ways that an operator can increase revenues at the fare-box.

This is not to say that there should not be more funds from the provincial government. In my proposal for a fair system of fare integration, I acknowledge that there will likely be a cost to it that has to come from either some level of government, or from the fare-box. Increasing the take from the fare-box has the nasty side effect of deterring people from using transit.

I do, however, see that an increase in single fares has the least effect of deterring people as it tends to hit the one-off rider. Compare this with the original proposal for the TTC’s recent fare hike that would have added 9.1% to the single fare, but almost 16% to the Metropass user. In the end, the Metropass went up by only 11% while the single fare rose by 9.1%. This is still disgraceful, as the frequent rider should never experience an increase higher than the casual rider.

Granted, the percentage of casual riders is low, so a greater increase for them does not amount to a whole lot of cash across the board. That said, are there other ways besides simply increasing the basic single fare to collect a little more, at least from the casual rider?

One of the pillars of my proposal is to have time-based fares, where a single fare (cash, ticket, or token) is essentially purchasing transit use for a specified time, instead of an A to Z travel path. In a sense, single fares would be a 2-hour pass. Within the GTA, only the TTC, Durham Transit, and GO Transit do not have time based single fares. The TTC takes the stand that they would lose too much fare-box revenue if they moved to a time-based system, but when looked at closely, their own studies show a loss of about $15 million annually. Not pocket change, but in the big picture of the TTC’s annual budget, this is not an amount that will bring the system to its knees.

When York Region Transit switched from trip-based to time-based transfers a month before VIVA was launched in 2005, they made another change in their fare structure: the single cash fare. Also used in Brampton and Mississauga, this is where anyone paying cash pays the same as anyone else paying cash. No children’s fare, no student’s fare, and no senior’s fare. Just the adult cash fare. If one wants a discount (often referred to as a ‘concession’ fare with other transit agencies), one must purchase tickets or a pass. Discounts should only be a benefit for those that are more than a casual user. As a side benefit to the transit agency, a single cash fare facilitates getting an accurate ridership count.

I was inspired to write this when I came across another possibility while checking the current fares in Calgary for an upcoming trip. Calgary Transit charges an adult fare for dogs (service dogs are exempt). While I might be tempted to charge an extra fare for someone carrying something that takes up a person’s space like a tuba, many bags, or (dare I say it) a backpack, it sort of makes sense on one level to charge for a dog that is not a requirement. I suspect that this would open an argument about other pets and size of pet (smuggling of purse-fitting dogs), but they somehow manage with this in Calgary.

I am curious about any other ideas out there! Maybe the TTC can find away to make up the $15 million that time-based fares would cost them.

TTC Riders’ Strike

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

While not exactly an LRT issue, I thought I would comment on the proposed TTC Riders’ Strike this Friday, November 13.

It would be nice to not have any fare increases (heck, it would be nice to not have any fares!), the cost of things keeps going up and there is no sustained operational funding coming from upper levels of government. Perhaps if there was a serious effort to lobby those levels of governments during the not-too-distant elections, we might see some change at the fare-box. My big concern is that the proposed fare increase is somewhat misdirected at the most loyal users of the system. The occasional user who pays a cash fare will see an increase that is just over 9%, token users will see a jump over 11%, and Metropass users will see a jump that is nearly 16%! Do we really want to encourage transit use and all the wonderful ‘green’ thoughts that come with that?

I won’t go on anymore about the proposed increase itself, as what I wanted to comment on is the idea of a riders’ strike on Friday. I am not a fan of boycotts of something with the idea that doing so will alter the pricing of the item, particularly when the item is not exactly discretionary. We have all seen the “don’t buy your gas from X on Tuesday and they will have to lower their price” boycotts. In theory, these should work, but the theory does not take into account some of the strongest characteristics of basic human nature: apathy and laziness. Boycotts against products and companies have worked, when the underlying issue was some form of outrage besides price. These work by leveraging other traits of human nature that can bring out greater numbers and can be sustained for a longer period of time. Outrage over a change in the price of something quickly dies when that change is relatively normal. If we woke up tomorrow to find gas at $2.50 per litre, I suspect there will be some very serious action taken by some and oil companies will react to it. I suspect they are aware of that - it is the “put a frog in boiling water versus put it in warm water and slowly raise the temperature” issue.

That said, I will say that the proposed Riders’ Strike on Friday is not a bad idea. They are not trying to get everyone to avoid the TTC on Friday. Hearing the sound of crickets at Bloor-Yonge station on Friday is not their intent!

The intent is to demonstrate what effect a fare hike could have on ridership. The proposed fare increase is not going to drive hordes of people from the TTC, most will just pay the increase because they have no choice, or what choice they do have is has other issues they would rather not bother with. At the same time, an increase in fares will result in some people re-assessing what their options are and some will find other alternatives. Maybe only 5%, or perhaps as much as 10% might find alternatives.

A boycott that aims to demonstrate this effect can easily reach its goal. That is likely to have a few more politicians sit up and take notice.

GTA Fare Integration

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

I have put together a page outlining a proposal for GTA fare integration. This could be extended to cover the entire GTHA as well, but I describe the GTA only to keep it simpler (as well as a shorter page showing what currently exists). Only transit agencies that immediately border on Toronto are included.

This is just an initial draft and will no doubt be revised, partly due to feedback I receive. By all means, look it over and post your comments here.

January 20 addition:

There has been discussions on other websites and in the media (see this article from the Globe and Mail) regarding a Metrolinx report on fare integration that was to be on the agenda of last week’s meeting, but for some reason was quickly removed from the agenda and removed from their website. In case you haven’t seen it, you can take a look here.

Future York U Commuter Students from York Region: Get Ready To Pay Double!

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

York University has a significant number of Commuter Students - those who live off campus, often at home, and commute to campus on public transit. Being on the border of Toronto and York Region, the campus is served by TTC and YRT/VIVA routes which has the effect of erasing the fare boundary at Steeles.

That means, Commuter Students in Toronto can get to York with a single TTC fare, and those in York Region (in zone 1) can get to York with a single YRT fare. That is today, but what happens when the subway goes to Vaughan?

Future students in Toronto will see no change to their fare structure. Not so for students living in York Region. York Region students will have to pay the TTC fare when they board the subway at VCC or at the 407 station. This is in addition to their YRT fare to get there. Basically: double fares!

Thinking of avoiding the subway altogether and take a YRT or VIVA bus to the campus? As the saying goes, “You’ve got another think coming.”

According to the Memorandum of Understanding on the TYSSE (Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension) from June 18:

York Region agrees not to operate or permit the operation of public transit services directly to York University.
 - third bullet of item “l” on page 5 

Of course, one will be able to take YRT services to Steeles West station and walk from there. Sounds equally fun on a winter day with a windchill of -20 or on a summer day with a humidex of 38.

What about driving to a station? You may as well pay for parking on campus. I believe there may be parking planned for Steeles West, but the YRT fare will be the same or less expensive. The same goes for the 407 station:

TTC agrees to charge a minimum parking fee at Highway 407 Station (600 spaces) of twice the cost of the TTC or York average fare, whichever is lower. In the event utilization of the lot is under-performing, the minimum price for the lot will be renegotiated.
  - third bullet of item “k” on page 5

As for parking up at VCC:

The TTC/City agree that, as part of the scope of the project, no commuter parking will be located at VCC Station.
  - first bullet of item “k” on page 5

This is just one of the costs for the convenience and benefits of having a subway line to Vaughan.