Peak fare TTC

TTC might implement off-peak fares to reduce crowding

Would less people take the subway during rush hour if it were cheaper to ride earlier? Or later?

Overcrowding has become a huge problem for Toronto's subway system in recent decades, particularly on Line 1, which sees an estimated 30,000 riders per hour heading southbound from Bloor.

The idea of "dynamic pricing" has been floating around City Hall since at least 2015, but has always been brushed off as something that couldn't work until Presto did.

"Many transit agencies offer peak and off-peak pricing to reduce congestion during peak hours and encourage off-peak ridership," reads the TTC report from December of that year.

"There are two ways in which this policy is implemented," the report continues. "Either the peak price is inflated to discourage travel during peak hours or the off-peak price is decreased to encourage new customers during off-peak hours."

The goal back then was to increase revenue, but off-peak fares are being considered now as a potential solution for capacity issues heading into 2018.

A TTC report called "Managing Crowding on Line 1 Yonge-University" is set to go before the transit agency's board next week.

The report includes several long-term strategies and immediate measures that can be taken to alleviate congestion, including customer awareness campaigns, better station management and design studies.

What's most interesting for passengers, however, is option number one in the TTC report's "Medium-Long Term Strategy" section.

"Differential pricing to encourage demand away from the peak hours has been approved by the TTC Board," it reads. "With PRESTO at every station, and soon at every entrance of every station, this strategy is plausible."

This means that the TTC could theoretically implement dynamic pricing as soon as they're satisfied with the Presto rollout, though no set amount for discounts or hikes has been announced.

A policy still needs to be developed, according to the report, but it looks like this is a very real possibility. 

Lead photo by

Bruce Reeve


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