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fare integration

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John Tory and TTC Chair support time-based fares

When I was a student at the University of Ottawa, I didn’t have the means to print train tickets when I wanted to go home. This was particularly difficult around the holidays. I learned that if I waited to pick up my tickets at the train station before I left, the lines would take me at least 45 minutes. By then, there would be little room for my bags and I would be stuck with a seat close to the bathrooms.  Not an ideal situation.

So, instead, a week before I was set to leave for Toronto, I would jump on the bus to pick up my tickets in person. It was about a 20 min. bus ride to the station. I would get there, grab my ticket, and jump back on the bus to return to campus.

The best part was I only had to pay one fare.

On Thursday, Toronto Mayor John Tory, as well as Toronto Transit Commission Chair (TTC) Joshe Colle and Commissioner Mary Fragedakis, threw their support behind time-based fares for customers using PRESTO.

They sent a letter to TTC CEO Andy Byford requesting a report for next month detailing the costs and implications of time-based fares for 2018.

“I am dedicated to getting Toronto moving and making sure it is easier for people to get around our city,” said Tory. “Now with time-based transfers and the PRESTO technology, we once again have the opportunity to make life more affordable for our residents and further encourage transit ridership.”

This request comes at the height of discussion about fare integration with GO Transit and the UP Express. Another option is fare by distance, with discounts for those transferring on to the TTC from a GO Station. At the last TTC Board meeting, numerous councillors expressed concerns about asking residents who lived further away to pay more to take public transportation.

“Time-based transfers would allow people on transit the flexibility to hop on and off to run errands or make stops along their way to work, school, or home.” said Colle in a statement. “This would continue the modernization of our services, and further demonstrate the TTC’s ongoing commitment to improving the customer experience.”

There was a report written by city staff in 2014 outlining some of the basic financial repercussions and the options that are available to the TTC. This issue will be discussed during the TTC budget process, which needs to be submitted by early 2018.

What do you think of time-based fares? 

Media seems to be one-sided towards TTC and Metrolinx

It often seems that the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and Metrolinx are getting roasted by everyone — the local media, twitter, and even people sitting at the dinner table.

Transit services provided in Toronto have a tough time catching a break and their achievements are often buried under the criticisms constantly being launched their way. It is no easy feat providing public transportation for a city of six million people. If you think of the massive population that TTC and Metrolinx serve on a daily basis, it’s a miracle these services get off the ground, let alone get each and every one of us home!

As a member of the media, I am going to temporarily ditch the table of media sharks and take a moment to appreciate the successes of TTC and Metrolinx. I may be burnt at the proverbial stake for professing my love of local transit, but I will bravely stand up and say this: thank you TTC for getting my tired buttocks home after a long day at work!

First off, kudos to the tireless efforts of City of Toronto politicians, the province of Ontario, and both the TTC and Metrolinx boards for the massive transit plans that are being actively adjusted and carried out every day. Toronto may not have the transit it needs right now, but the relief line is on the table and many other transit projects are being pushed forward with diligence. As someone who attended the public consultations on the relief line assessment, the TTC planners of the project were repeatedly roasted by the public and I commend their professionalism and perseverance through this process.

Another joint success of the TTC and Metrolinx is their ability to work together and launch the PRESTO fare integration. Being able to use one form of payment across the Metrolinx and TTC systems has made my commute much easier. It has been difficult to integrate the system in some circumstances, and the TTC drivers have been patient towards customers using PRESTO from the beginning as well.

Another major success was Mayor John Tory’s move to make the TTC free for kids under 12. As a single mom, this has made an incredible difference in my life. I never have to worry about taking my daughter with me on transit and it is such a financial relief. Seeing the City of Toronto support its children first-hand makes me feel as if I am a part of a community.

Lastly, I would like to demonstrate my appreciation for TTC drivers. The amount of flack these employees receive is inconceivable, and I’ve witnessed many acts of kindness from drivers that help people onto the streetcar or take the time to direct an old man to his destination. These are the true heroes of these transit systems. Overall, there are always new subway routes to be built or new trains to be provided, but without the TTC and Metrolinx, I wouldn’t be able to get home. Next time you are reading another hate-piece on transit in Toronto, think on that and maybe TTC and Metrolinx won’t seem so bad after all.

Toronto and GTHA integrating fares for easier travel

Have you ever had to commute between the Toronto boundary lines and the GTHA and pay two full fares? The cost of transit quickly adds up and often prevents people from traveling by transit in the region.

Metrolinx and TTC came together for a joint meeting on Wednesday to discuss an integrated fare system to make public transportation more accessible in the region. The meeting will address the fare barrier at the Toronto-905 boundary and present three possible solutions to the issue. The current system is disjointed and can create confusion for some commuters. Having to purchase fares twice is inefficient and can slow down or prevent people from transiting around the GTHA.

The first option is called the Modified Status Quo  and would provide a common transfer rule across the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and the 905 regions. The transfer would be free or have a consistent price determined by the network. The TTC would remain the same, providing transit users with the same cost on the streetcars, buses, subway and LRT. The cost of regional services would be reduced to ensure that the cost principles were fair, but the fare would gradually increase with longer trips. This system would be the easiest to integrate because it wouldn’t involve a lot of changes for the TTC itself. The concern with the first option is that without zones, it is difficult to assess fair costs for various trips across the large GTHA region.

The second concept is based on Local and RT Zones. This option would develop an entirely new fare structure for the region and would add local and regional zones into fares. This regional network would have very specific pricing considering the distance of travel, and would only use one service provider for fare integration.

There would be three types of service under this option; Local transit, which includes streetcars and buses, Rapid Transit (RT), consisting of subways, SRT and LRT, and the Regional GO transit network.  Zones would be approximately seven kilometres and RT would share the same zone boundaries as local transit. Go Transit fares would increase with distance, but all the systems would have a free transfers. The downfall of the system is the expense of commuting from areas in Toronto that are far north to the downtown region. The TTC fare would increase substantially under this system. This option would arguably be a money-maker for TTC and Metrolinx.

The third option is a Hybrid, which is a popular option being used in Amsterdam and Melbourne. This system also uses zones and divides the three types of transit into Local, RT, and Regional. The difference in this approach is that the fare structure is not strictly divided between the local and RT systems. Instead, distance would be the facilitator of differing costs. The cost would be the same on short-distance local and RT trips within the city limits and would increase as the distance grows. The transfers would be free within a set time period as well.

The Hybrid option combines the fare integration system into a united whole and still uses the organized zone structure. It also attempts to lower costs of local trips in the city.

Consultations with the public and the city will occur in May and June.