What’s a fair transit fare? Toronto’s annual debate tests the trade-offs, but Translink strategy unclear

bus pictureWith Compass card users breaking the 100,000 mark, a new single-zone bus network and Faregates soon to swing shut, it’s been a year of dramatic changes for Translink users, who saw voters reject new funding tools in June’s referendum.

But what is the future of fares on Translink? Riders already pay the biggest share of the system’s overhead. With ridership flatlining, buses overcrowded and pass-ups common, this seems like a bad time for fare increases. (The last was in 2013.)

In Toronto, the fare debate is annual, as this update on the TTC makes clear. The trade-offs are not easy. But the debate is public and the outcomes easy to follow.

Translink planners are laying the groundwork for a fare review, likely to begin in the New Year. Are they looking for increases? Distance-based fares? More changes to zones?

Approval of increases in the basic fare can only come from the Mayor’s Council under current legislation. Given the dramatic changes of last year, a review of the entire fare structure with some independent analysis, makes sense.

Let’s make sure any review of Translink’s fare system is at least as transparent as Toronto’s.