Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Transit fares: Who should pay what?

How much do you pay for a trip on Calgary Transit? Your fare could be significantly different from what your neighbour, friend or family member pays, because fares depend on an individual’s age, income and student status. While most people agree that it makes sense for some customers to pay more and some to pay less, we are seeking public input on the balance between fares.

“Customers have expressed their desire for future improvements at Calgary Transit,” says Chris Jordan, manager of Strategic Planning at Calgary Transit. “We are working hard to make this happen, but to offset the cost of improvements, increased revenue from fares will be required. We want to gather public input on fares to help us confirm the guiding principles that we’ve used to develop our current price structure.”

The majority of your transit services are paid for almost equally from fares and property taxes. (Other much smaller sources of revenue include parking and advertising). In order to increase and improve transit service in Calgary while keeping pace with the city’s growing population, more revenue from fares will be needed along with a similar amount from property taxes.

This leaves Calgary Transit with a big question: If fares go up, who should pay more, and by how much? You can help answer this!

Calgary Transit has developed an online tool that allows you to adjust the different fares until you meet a $10 million target. Once you have determined what you think is a good balance for transit fares, click “submit” to have your say on transit fares. Calgary Transit is presenting a transit fare strategy to City Council in June, and public input will be used as much as possible.

Visit calgarytransit.com/faretool to get started.

43 comments:

  1. If you have a good product, that is affordable, people will use it. If more people use it, you make more money. This idea of always raising fares as a solution is counter-productive. Transit should be affordable. Maybe less money should be spent on extravagant LRT stations and then you wouldn't have to raise fares.

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    1. The Point of renovating the stations was to allow for 4 cars, which translate to better service which means higher fees.

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    2. 4 cars doesn't translate into "better service." It simply means that you're more likely to get service.

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  2. We should consider fare zones like Vancouver or make those commuting from outside of Calgary pay more as I don't believe their taxes go to Calgary

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    1. Agreed! zones is a great idea (including the downtown zone, maybe just a buck to travel downtown rather than free).

      It would be nice to see paid day parking spots at the train stations instead of only monthly parking. I get the need for monthly, but paid per day/hour will bring in revenue as well.

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    2. I agree! Fare zones are really important to ensure that we can continue to meet address the costs of Council approved growth rates in transit service hours per citizen. This may be seen as a tax on suburban Calgarians, and out of towners like those who live in Cochrane, however, no body said that living in suburban Calgary wouldn't come at a cost (eventually).

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    3. I agree 100% with introducing zone fares and suggested this to the mayor during his last campaign. The response from his staff was not encouraging and I have seen no follow-up since. This mayor is very keen on fairness related to pay for services (e.g. new home construction) - why not for transit too?

      In order for this to happen Calgary will need the type of electronic payment system that Vancouver has. Vancouver transit is awesome and does not cost $3 for a single zone.

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    4. I agree with Fare Zones as well. The idea that someone commuting from somewhere such as Lions park or sunnyside (just outside the free fare zone) paying as much as the person on the train all the way from Crowfoot or the upcoming Royal Oak Arbour Lake station doesn't make sense. This would see the cost of these new stations being proportionately carried by the people in new communities on the fringe paying more than inner city.

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  3. ]its already expensive for poor/minimal service. and I doubt it will be any better after the increase, but some greedy person on the top will be happy, and laughing all the way to the bank

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    1. Poor minimal service????I take HUGE offense

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    2. The service is poor on some routes I find. and in the winter especially. When its -30 and there is no shelter and the bus is 15-20 min late that in my books counts as poor minimal service.

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    3. I think it is important for people to realize that transit relies on technology to keep things moving. In extreme weather conditions, this technology just doesn't work optimally - just like your car may not start in the morning, sometimes buses really have a tough time getting going as well. In addition, just like you, the bus drivers may have difficulty in getting to work. I really want Calgarians to start to realize that Calgary Transit is a group of people, just like you and I, trying to do a good job. When its tough for you to get going in the morning when there is 2 feet of snow and ice outside, it's tough for Calgary Transit as well :)

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    4. The problem for me is the hours I work. I would love to take Transit, but they don't run when I get off work at 2 am. So why should I be getting taxed for a service I can never use? Also, you'd be hitting the home owners and not the people renting, and so they are getting free transit. Also you'd have to bill all the towns outside of Calgary, as you pointed out, and no town is going to say yes to that.

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  4. I think fare zones would be helpful, and I'm sorry to say but I really think we need to get rid of the honour system and install turnstiles for the C-Trains. It is near impossible to spot-check compliance during rush hour with everyone packed in like sardines and I wouldn't be surprised if lots of people took advantage.

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    1. Agree, the honour system does not work as there are people who have not paid for transit for eons and never get caught.

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    2. Turnstiles is also a great option - I agree. The amount of people chancing a no-ticket ride that never get caught is probably much higher than Calgary Transit thinks. WIth the cost of a monthly pass even a month or two not getting caught quickly offsets the cost of a ticket. And at rush hour, no one ever checks.

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    3. Agree - turnstiles are necessary. I know of a lot of people who buy into not paying by playing the odds. They will use a ticket maybe 50% of the time.
      The way we purchase passes/tickets needs to be easier. The machines seem to only collect cash? There is no way to buy a monthly pass from the machine. The 1st of the month rolls around and I like, darn it!, I forgot to buy by bus pass.
      I will not travel the trains after 6pm, safety is an issue. In fact my company (and many other downtown companies) will not let us walk the downtown or travel transit because it is unsafe. They will pay for a cab. .
      The zone system is fine but if not policed it will make no difference. The route of the problems is the same. Although nice the honour system is not working, people will take advantage.
      Also as a downtown commuter from the NW the train fills up at crowfoot and Dalhousie and there is only standing room after that. Who want to pay to stand for 30 minutes. The new trains seem to be designed for less sitting and more standing room. One person often takes up two seats.
      Raising fares is the easy solution. Let's get to the route of the problems, Let's be a little more imaginative.

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    4. I have been taking the train to work between Anderson and downtown every day since last September and I have never been asked to show my ticket. I get on at City Hall station after work and there is absolutely no way anyone could check tickets leaving downtown as you can barely squeeze on as it is. It makes me wonder how many people are riding for free?

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  5. Why do we continue with this antiquated system? It is ridiculous to increase fares yet again for limited service! I've been to cities all over the world in which people use transit as their number one means of travel. In Calgary, this scenario is virtually impossible unless you stay in your quadrant and only ever travel into the core. Quadrant to quadrant travel is extraordinarily difficult and time consuming. I do not live or work at the university or in the core - neither do my husband or children. Frankly, it's cheaper and easier for us to take our car. Everywhere. Fare zones would be a great start to solving part of the problem but that doesn't improve the whole system. On the days when I would like to go into the core (or some other place easily accessible by transit) it would be nice if I could purchase a one-day unlimited transit pass. Why can't we get a one day pass or a three day or seven day pass? We need to come up with ways to encourage people to use the system we have in order to pay for the system we want. We need to stop making it cheaper for people who live inner city to take their cars everywhere they go. Currently, we encourage daily ridership from the suburbs, Cochrane, and Okotoks to the core but discourage use by those who live within a fifteen or twenty minute drive of downtown by making it cheaper and less time consuming for them to drive.

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    1. You can already buy a day pass.

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  6. Stop wasting money on glass bus shelters that never stop being smashed. Nice contract for whomever the City is in bed with.

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  7. Will they decrease the fees once that upgrades are complete... Nope, they will just increase it again. Fare zones would be a good idea. Start by getting rid of the FREE zone. They also need to improve Quadrant to Quadrant travel. If I have to pay more for my CRAP service, I will revert back to driving my car to work! Calgary has the worst transit system out of the cities I have travelled around the world!!

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  8. This city has been ranked the most expensive city to live in. The costs are unbearable to survive here as it is. Not everyone is a CEO of a gas company. The working Middle class has been virtually wiped out to the extent of them now becoming low income workers and statistics will show 75% are single parents! Why would we, as a City, increase public transit fares to already cash strapped citizens trying to survive and go to work. If we are a richer city then the wealth should be spread out so all can enjoy and maintain a better standard of living. Very poor choice in my mind for the City to take on this initiative.

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  9. Get rid of the free zone.

    Better quadrant to quadrant travel.

    Get rid of bus shelters.

    Raise prices on transit advertising on the bus/trains/shelters/benches

    Raise prices on parking spaces. (daily/weekly/monthly window tickets)

    LOWER prices on the transit fares -- the lower the prices, the more people will use them.
    CHEAPER monthly passes, give us monthly/weekly/daily pass options from the machines.
    Give an option to print off a card from the computer. Use Ticketmaster as an example -- barcode scanners work well enough to prove that a pass is real.

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  10. Thank you for your comments and suggestions. Many people have suggested “zones” – charging less for shorter trips and more for longer trips. This is something that Calgary Transit is looking into for the future, but it is not feasible for the next budget cycle (2014-18). A zone-based system requires a lot of new infrastructure and equipment (turnstiles at every station). This would be a huge project.

    We currently have zone-based fares in the Calgary Region - a trip into Calgary on the Airdrie Intercity Express is $8 one-way. In the future, as more towns and cities outside Calgary begin to operate public transit lead by the Calgary Regional Partnership, you’ll see a zone-based fare structure evolve.

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  11. Has Calgary transit thought about creating a bus pass for tourists? It could be a daily, weekly or monthly pass. You could add discounts to entrance fees to different venues, special rates for meals, etc as incentives for tourists to purchase a pass. London, UK offers a program similar to this.

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  12. I have to say I refuse to take calgary transit as it sucks worse then transit in a small town and they only have busses, it's kind of sad that a small place like kelowna has a better transit system then calgary. I moved to kelowna because calgary is an expensive place to live, housing market sucks for renting, renting prices are far too high and so is calgary transit. The job market is no good and there is virtually no parent friendly jobs and daycare is rediculous. They say that bc stands for bring cash but I think that should be calgary's motto, i dont think I could ever make a living and get ahead out there. You guys need to think about how to lower the cost of living in calgary and figure out how to create less drinking and driving via ctrains and busses running later then they do and being more affordable then they are.

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    1. It's far easier to manage a transit system for a small town than it is for a big one. Your first complaint is somewhat invalid.

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  13. A lot of the time when I take the train, I don't see the ads up top anymore. Is this because no one wants to pay for advertising up there?

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  14. Can we please put locks on the gates that you open to cross the train tracks. For everyone's safety. They could lock once the red lights start flashing and unlock once they stop.

    I almost whitnessed a little girl get killed the other day from running onto the track unknowingly.

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    1. Exactly, we should be encouraging people to live inner city by providing incentives such an cheaper public transit. Those who pay less for homes in the surburbs should be burdened with the costs of creating infrastructure (overpasses, highways, rail stations, emergency services) not those who are paying more to live downtown.

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    2. What about the people who are walking in between the gates when the lights turn on.. isn't it dangerous for them to be stuck in between?

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  15. I have a unique idea: Make transit use free!!!
    I do not use transit as it is very expensive and with the proposed raise; I would rather buy a another car for my two teen agers as it will be the cheaper option for me.
    Our transit expense is about 300M, and there are about 500K households in Calgary. If we raise our property tax by $50/month all this could be covered. If we share 50% cost with businesses in The City or/and adjacent communities , it will bring down the property tax down to $25/month.
    Right now transit is covering 47% of there expenses from the fare collection; keeping this in line, our monthly property tax needs to be raised by only $12 or $24 if we take businesses / neighboring communities out of the equation.
    Mind it that with this $12/24 per month additional transit tax all household members will be able to ride free all the times. Additionally, it will encourage all to use CT and will have a positive impact on the environment. Also this will attract more tourists to The City.
    This tax can be collected on our month utilities bills (as garbage/recycle charges are collected)


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    1. Wow, Nadeem it is so nice to hear from a like minded person. I definately agree with you. Making this part of the property tax makes so much sense. it ensure the home owners pay and those that do not have the money are still able to get around saving the lower income earners this expense. it also saves the City a big chunck of change as they no longer have to look after all these fair collection machines. to me it is win win. too bad this is not the thoughts of the majority of home owners in calgary.

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  16. It is good to know that CT is expanding to 4 cars soon, and using 4 cars make sense during peak hours. What about non peak hours? Right now LRT uses 3 cars for peak and non peak hours. My suggestion is to use 2 cars during non peak hours as majority of 3 cars are not even half packed. Will it help in any saving???
    CT, I have another suggestions, in all cars during rush hours around 20-30 people are standing near the either end of the cars, surprisingly these areas of the cars have no hand rails or handles for the people to hold on to. As, a result, I have seen many bumping around like pinball when train stops and starts. Please, provide hand rails in older cars (easy retro fit) and make sure new cars which CT is planning to purchase soon have it. Many commuters will thank CT for these additional hand rails.

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  17. One thing I don't get is why CT purchases new train cars that have majority standing for an average 30 minute commute. Most people from the outer portions of the city are going to other quadrants of the city and to see the amount of people having to stand for very long makes CT in one aspect not very user friendly. I hope that there is an emphasis on having public input into the type of train cars customers once. As a regular CT commuter (and I hope CT does have a chance to feel what it's like being on a crowded train), people don't give up their claimed seats that easily in this type of culture created.

    I'm also hoping that there is a heavier focus on quadrant to quadrant to traveling in the near future. I for one hate having to go through downtown to go from the NE to NW or NE to SE/SW, and the buses that do straight quadrant to quadrant are definitely not always 100%.

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    1. Completely agree with quadrant travelling comments. Like majority of you,I have purchased monthly pass only to come to downtown for work, for everything else I rely on personal transportation.

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  18. Transit should be peoples number one choice of travel. I have been to cities where this is the case. I do not think the fares need to go up, it actually needs to come down so more people can afford it. Calgary is so spread out that it is almost impossible to rely on transit alone for transportation. So except the suggested increase in fares is going to increase the service (more bus routes, no delays... etc), it is a bad idea. If more people took the bus, there will be less rush hour traffic :)

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  19. I lived in London U.K. for 4 years. You have no idea what crowding on a commuter train is like. You guys all might complain, but until you live in a huge city and try and get home from work with 4 million other commuters, quit complaining!!! I have waited for over 45 minutes at rush hour in London. And you better be aggressive, push, shove, fart, cough, anyway you can to get on. If immigrants come from large city's over seas, they know the drill, which is probably why they are better getting on the trains before us polite people. And trains got re-routed all the time people!!! And after midnight, tube service and bus service disappeared.

    There were a couple of fare options I had as a commuter and transit user which I liked. You could purchase a commuter pass, which gave you 24 access during the work week only, M to Friday service only. The pass was ID specific, it had your picture on it. It was non transferable. If one person bought this pass in the family, and the rest of the family were just using odd trips here and there, all family members got 30% of their fares, whatever they purchased; but only if they went to the ticket office, of which there were many. The fare machines used coins and credit cards and you could buy as one transaction, for example, 2 kids tickets, one adult, one senior, and stick in your credit card or money(it never gave change but you could over pay) and all five tickets would come out at once. Also there were always small ticketing offices kicking around where you could get route information and buy tickets. Single Day passes were always the best option and the best value for your money spent. You could use bus or tube as many times as you wanted. Single one way fares were always the most expensive. They had three fare levels, seniors, child and adult. The cut off for kids was age 14. Seniors was 60, if I remember correctly.

    They had the equivalent of our U-Pass for post secondary students, and then they had 2 day, 3 day or 7 day multi-pass.
    If you were a tourist, they always had accompanying discount brouchures when you purchased your ticket, which allowed you to go see the sights at a discount and eat at different places at a discount. I really enjoyed using that the last time I was there two years ago.

    So my suggestion, make a commuter pass, pick a rate, make it for Monday to Friday travel and make it owner specific. Not transferable. Offer the discount for family members and for weekend travel if you own a commuter pass.

    Continue with our current student bus pass system, including the UPass. Instead of zones, make it more expensive to travel in high capacity times, ie, don't do a single trip in rush hour due to the crush. Ride transit when it is less crowded and make it cheaper in the off hours.

    Fix out fare boxes so you can pay by credit card or create a system like the ParkPlus, where you can have a ticket on your cell phone and you can pay for a ticket on your cell phone. Charge a small fee for that convenience.

    Be able to upload a photo of yourself onto the net to order your monthly passes automatically and have them sent by mail so you don't have to pick them up.

    By a monthly pass, 7 day a week, for more money, not a whole lot more and make it owner specific.

    Also, I see nothing wrong with adding 10 bucks a month to taxes for transit, provided the money goes specifically to transit for service.

    Figure out a way we can use our phones to track where our bus is, that way, if it is delayed, we won't waste time waiting for something that doesn't appear.

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    1. It is lovely to see someone posting a positive and constructive ideas, rather than bashing Calgary Transit! Those are some great ideas!

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  20. Also, if you have all members in your family using Transit on a dailty basis, a family pass for a year, month etc. would be so great. That would eliminate all this hassle with the school bus pass at the school and applying for the transit credit with the school board, etc etc. A set cost, for two adults and up to 4 kids. If you pay for the year up front, it is cheaper. It would be ID specific, and if you lose it, it would cost 50 bucks to replace. You could have it scanable, so everytime you use it, it gets scanned. Or something like that. The school boards could contribute a set amount toward the family pass each year.

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  21. Fares should be based on how many stops you are planning to travel. If you are utilizing more of the infrastructure, travelling from one end of the line to downtown, you should pay higher fares than someone going 1 or 2 stops. Also, fares in major cities like Toronto charge $3 / ticket and provide excellent services. How can we justify raising fares higher than this while offering a mediocre transit service? Perhaps installing a turn-style system will reduce the number of people not paying for tickets and then we will have more money to improve frequency of trains and services.

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  22. the honor/trusting system should end... unfortunately, way too many people just don't pay. and when they are caught, how many actually will go and pay their fine? install gates or whatever, so people can't "anonymously" get a free ride any more (they'd have to jump the gate or do something obvious). with gates installed, you can cut back on the number of patrols, less men power more profit.

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