GTA Fare Integration

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.

6 Responses to “GTA Fare Integration”

  1. Robert Gregory Says:

    Your proposal makes a number of valid points, but one critical factor was overlooked:

    A person who takes one transit ride out-of-the-blue should expect to pay more than someone who commutes to work every day, who in turn should pay more than someone who commutes to work every day AND ten or so rides on a given weekend.

    The cost of regular commuting across the GTA in many cases is exactly (or close) to the cash far (not much savings) and most monthly passes are actually more expensive for daily commuters.

    A more aggressive bulk savings should be made available to regular commuters to offset the high daily expense.

    Cal’s comment: In order to keep the explanation of the concept as simple as possible, I only discussed a single adult fare, but I believe that passes should have a significant discount. I will go so far as to say that the purchase of a monthly pass should be about 10% less than the purchase of 40 single fares, which assumes two single fares on four weeks of five business days per month. A weekly pass could be 5% less than 10 single fares. In other words, if a single zone base fare were $3.50, the single zone monthly pass should be about $126. (To compare with the TTC’s $2.75 fare, that would make the pass about $99). Passes that involve more than one zone would include the zone upgrades in this calculation.

    In other words, make the pass be a savings for a person who uses transit to commute on five days per week. Thus, they are encouraged to use transit for additional purposes.

    Also, I would add that I am in favour of the single cash fare that YRT, Brampton, and Mississauga have. That is, cash fare is the same for every passenger. If you want a discount because of your age or student status, you must invest in ten tickets or a pass.

  2. Serge Says:

    I have read your page. My opinion is that your criticisms of fare-by-distance are not fatal, especially if fare-by-distance involves charging less for each subsequent kilometre — which only makes sense — as this would resolve the long-distance commuter issue.

    As for short-distance commuters, such a system would certainly not penalize such commuting more than it does not, and would likely make it cost less. Short-distance commuters will continue to prefer it over the hassle of taking cars under a fare-by-distance system that allows shorter commutes to cost even less than they do now. As to non-car commuting, there is simply no reason to prioritize public transit over it. If walking or bicycling, etc. is feasible, than great news for all.

    Finally, whether or not fare by zone is easy isn’t a criticism of fare by distance — it’s simply an alternative proposal. Consider reviewing why DC abolished a similar system for taxis.

    Cal’s comment: I agree that the issues with fare-by-distance are not ‘fatal’, but they are problematic. My proposal does not abolish fare-by-distance, but rather alters the way it is implemented to promote GTHA-wide fairness and symmetry while striking a balance between the two extremes.

  3. Mark Rose Says:

    A few years ago, I travelled around LA on public transit. Transfers were valid for three hours, and the fee for making a transfer was 25 cents (at every point). It worked great. I was able to travel over 100 km, from Thousand Oaks to Buena Park, for a few dollars. While moving around, I could transfer seamlessly from the Big Blue Bus (Santa Monica) to LA Metro to Thousand Oaks Transit, etc.

    The same could be easily done for the GTA. Lower the base fare to a $2.00 (from $2.50 in Toronto), and make transfers $1.00 at every point.

    Standardize monthly/weekly/daily pass prices across the GTA, and setup reciprocity between neighbouring zones (e.g. TTC, YR, etc). Create two supplemental options: one that allows for GO usage, and another that allows travel in any zone.

  4. Gabe Lerman Says:

    Just stumbled upon your fare system article today - I had thought up a similar system a few weeks ago and thought I was so smart. Clearly, many others have thought it shouldn’t cost $3 just to cross Steeles Avenue. :)

    Any more thoughts on GTA fare integration since the article’s publishing?

    Cal’s comment: I have not tweaked it much since I first wrote it (the most recent change was to describe the YRT-90/TTC-25D in the past tense because the routes were changed last fall). I don’t claim that it is the ultimate best plan, but I have not received any feedback that has resulted in me having to reassess the mechanics of it.

    One can easily argue what the base fare and the zone supplements should be, but the five points all work together in an attempt to balance the opposing forces of making people pay for what they use and encouraging longer distance commuters to use transit. Perhaps that may be because I have had the chance to try many systems around the world and have more or less cherry-picked some of the best features I have seen.

  5. Gordon Keith Says:

    The TTC decision to adopt the Presto card mean that it will be universal among all of the major transit operators around Toronto. The click-in click-out option is ideal for specialized fare options such as child fares, limited distance fares or zone fares.

    Cal’s comment: Tap-off is only necessary for distance-based fares, such as on GO Transit. Child, senior, and student fares are implemented by having one’s Presto card registered for that purpose, which means that it cannot be borrowed by someone who must pay a higher fare. One nice thing with this is that once your card is registered for a special fare through one transit agency, the user will get that special fare on any agency that offers that fare.

    Just don’t try to use the card for other things like loading some money to the ePurse on a tranfer though.

    I am not sure what you mean by this. Loading of the ePurse is complete when a card is tapped at a terminal that knows about the load, and what fare is being paid at the time has no effect on the load. For instance, if I were to perform an online load late at night, the information about that load may not reach the terminals that are onboard some buses before they roll out in the morning. The details of the load will reach fixed terminals rather quickly, such as those at GO stations, TTC subway stations, and VIVA stations. If my first tap in the morning were on a bus, it is likely that no load will occur at that time, which is not a problem as long as the balance of the ePurse is sufficient to pay the fare. Then, if I make a transfer that involves a fixed terminal, the load will take place and everything will be fine. I know this, because I have done this.

  6. Sharon Says:

    Hello Calvin,

    What is your short answer for fair integration for the GTA relative to TTC and GO?

    Cal’s comment: In my proposal for fare integration, GO would be one zone upgrade above the fare required to travel between the two endpoints of the GO part of travel.

    For the sake of example, suppose the base transit fare is $4 and a zone upgrade is $1. If one were to take a trip entirely within a single zone (e.g.: entirely in TTC territory, or entirely within DRT territory, or entirely within one YRT zone), then the total fare would be $5 for travel within a 2-hour period ($4 base fare plus $1 zone upgrade for using GO). If the trip involved crossing a zone boundary (e.g.: between YRT zone 1 and TTC territory, or between MiWay and Toronto territories), then the total fare would be $6 ($4 base fare, plus $1 for crossing a zone boundary, plus $1 for using GO).

    I believe that the extra zone upgrade charge for using GO is reasonable for the faster, more comfortable service provided by GO. Anyone wishing to make the same trip could choose to do so in most situations without using GO for $1 less. Ideally, the fare for the premium service should cover the cost of local transit at each end (or any points in between). There are other places where this is the case, Oslo being one location where I used it for a week while staying there.

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