Fare zones - or not
For a fairly long time I've been running a poll on this blog asking readers to consider two proposals to improve the fare system. If you have voted, I thank you for your opinion. If you have not voted, then please do so on the right-hand column. Either way, I think its time to revisit the issue.
Anyone who has tried to transfer from one of the suburban systems onto the TTC knows that their transfers are not valid and that a second fare is necessary. Simple economics dictate that the more one uses a service, the more one should pay. Based on this, it makes sense to charge two fares if your journey includes two systems - or does it?
I believe that the second fare necessary when crossing the borders of the City of Toronto is a needless barrier to transit ridership. I believe that there should be, at minimum, reduced, as the positive effects of improved ridership is well worth the increased strain on the public purse. GO Transit should continue to use a separate fare structure, as no one would argue that it is a premium experience, but all municipal systems should enter into a fare-integration deal with GO to allow riders to "ride to GO" for around 50 to 75 cents. Also I believe that all municipal systems should allow unlimited transfers for at least 90 minutes for a single fare, as this will make transit more attractive to those who must make several stops along the way.
Moving back to the local systems, one argument made by Steve Munro has stuck with me. He believes that a GO-style fare-by-distance system for local transit will dissuade distance riders from choosing transit. In essence, since not everyone can live close to where they work and because the last 50 years of development have not placed homes close to places of employment, it is not equitable reward only those who can afford to live a short-commute lifestyle. Based on these principles, I have come up with two proposals:
1) A rider pays a single fare, and can ride anywhere in the GTA for 2 hours. Transfers between all local transit agencies will be free.
2) A rider pays a single fare, and can ride anywhere within their fare zone for 2 hours (either the suburban zone or the city zone). They can transfer into the other fare for half of their original fare, but receive a fresh two hours for use in either zone.
I would love to hear the opinions of those who read this blog, as in absence of any other changes, manipulating the fare system can bring riders to or push them away from transit.