The TTC might actually eliminate monthly passes for good
What's fair when it comes to fares on Toronto's public transit system?
It's a question that the TTC has been grappling with for years as it tries to develop a fare policy that both reflects the needs of customers and ensures some sort of financial stability for the commission itself.
A report set to go before the TTC Board on Feb. 10 details various options explored by staff when drafting a "5-year fare policy" for the system, including everything from free fares to fares calculated by distance, mode and zone.
Free public transit doesn't appear to be in the cards for Toronto just yet, as much as riders would love it, but change is in the air for TTC payments (isn't it always?) and this time around, monthly passes are on the chopping block.
"The incremental benefits of the TTC's existing monthly passes have diminished, and fare capping will better address customer needs," reads the report, which recommends scrapping a set monthly fee for unlimited rides in favour of allowing customers to ride for free after hitting a certain number of rides per month.
This would spell the end of what we now know as "the TTC Monthly Pass on PRESTO" — not to be confused with the beloved old Metropass, which was discontinued at the end of 2018 after nearly 40 years when the commission switched over to a Presto card-based fare system.
"Prior to the monthly pass being offered on PRESTO and the implementation of the two hour transfer, the TTC's former Metropass was very popular and had a high adoption rate across all customer groups, with 50 per cent of customers using Metropasses as of late 2015," reads the report that will be considered by the TTC Board next Thursday.
"The Metropass was initially introduced for frequent customers who wanted the added value of being able to make unlimited discretionary trips without having to pay an additional fare... After the migration to PRESTO, the benefit of making free discretionary trips was now covered by the two-hour transfer window."
The report states that the TTC observed a decline in monthly pass sales at the time because it was no longer beneficial for customers to buy a full pass (which retails between $143.00 and $156.00 for adults right now) at the beginning of each month.
Fare capping is being recommended as an alternative to monthly passes as "a simple and accessible option that supports the ability to pay and maximizes customer benefits without having to make changes to the existing policies."
The #TTC Board agenda for February 10 includes a long-awaited updated about the 5-Year Fare Plan.— TTCriders (@ttcriders) February 3, 2022
TTC staff is recommending fare capping & the re-introduction of the discount for GO-TTC transfers.
Report: https://t.co/M5FhplzRki pic.twitter.com/UQ6vu9kCEu
"It has become clear that monthly passes are no longer meeting customer needs and fare capping has the ability to retain a monthly option that customers want," reads the report.
"It is also important to note that although the analysis showed increased customer benefits that can be achieved with fare capping, there is a cost that comes to the TTC because the revenue of the upfront cost of monthly passes would be eliminated."
To prevent losing even more riders (thanks COVID) due to the change, TTC staff say that the fare caps could be flexible, adjusted based on time of day and user demographic.
"This could include setting fare caps that mimic current monthly pass thresholds to lessen the financial impacts and gradually lower the fare cap over time," reads the report. "It will also allow the TTC to set fare caps reflective of more accurate travel data (post-COVID), including determining which travel windows are most appropriate (daily, weekly, monthly)."
In addition to fare caps, the TTC is being urged to align the prices of senior, youth and low-income passes, as well as to reintroduce the Discount Double Fare (DDF) program that would allow customers switching between the TTC and other regional transit networks to save money.
But don't hold your breath expecting anything to change immediately — should the board endorse all of the report's recommendations, staff will then "continue to analyze the impacts" of these options to provide yet another report with more formal fare policy recommendations in May.
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