Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Transit Commission approves LRT-ready fare table, including 9% regular pass hike

At their meeting on Wednesday, the City of Ottawa's Transit Commission approved OC Transpo's proposed fare table, which is to take effect on January 1, 2017 and prepare riders for the transition to light rail in 2018.

The proposed fare table, illustrated below along with existing fares and the changes that would accompany it, will go to full council on June 22. (Click the image to enlarge it.)

*Express fares are being eliminated, and express riders will pay regular fares as of Jan. 1
**The existing Student pass will be rebranded as a Youth pass

You will notice some massive reductions in the express fares and passes, which is because OC Transpo has proposed eliminating premium express fares even though it is expected that express buses will continue to run until LRT is online. The elimination of those premium fares would have resulted in a $6M revenue shortfall for OC Transpo, which is the main reason why regular passholders will see an increase of nearly nine percent over today's pass cost.

(Note: The overall increases illustrated above, if approved, will be implemented in two phases; there will be a 2.5% increase on July 1 that was part of the 2016 budget, and the rest will take effect on Jan. 1, 2017 if approved by council.)

Paper tickets will also be discontinued as of Jan. 1, 2017, meaning the only single-fare options are cash and Presto.

Regular riders will take a big hit on their fares if they buy a monthly pass, but those who pay-per-ride with their Presto card will take an even bigger hit: Regular Presto fares will go up more than 16 percent over today's cost.

Cash fares, on the other hand, are being REDUCED, to the point where they are barely more expensive than epurse fares. This seems like a strange choice given that a major motivator for OC Transpo switching to Presto was the additional handling costs associated with cash fares (which will now, presuming they're more than five cents per fare, be subsidized by other riders).

The biggest hit, though, will be to Daypasses, which are going up by over 20 percent to hit the $10 mark on Jan. 1. It's tough to know who this will impact specifically; although Daypasses are good for families taking weekend trips, they're not marketed very heavily and thus don't seem to be used very often. Right now the Daypass is slightly cheaper than three single fares in a day, but with the hike it will only make sense if you've got four rides planned in a day.

Wednesday's commission meeting also featured a lively discussion of the proposed Low-Income Transit Pass, which the Transit Commission wants the province to pay for. Proponents of the pass, however, argued against "passing the buck" to the provincial government and made proposals to fund it by increasing fares on the existing ridership base.