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Time-Based Transfers Might Be Coming to the TTC

They'd be costly for the transit system, but crowd-pleasing.

A TTC report set to go before the board on January 28 indicates that when the PRESTO Farecard is introduced later this year, there will be an opportunity to transform the TTC’s approach to transfers from the current “continuous trip” system to one that’s “time-based.”

So what’s the difference, and why are transit users likely to be far happier with the latter?

As things stand now, transfers are only valid for a continuous one-way trip, without any stopovers. Under a time-based system, riders could, say, get off a bus, run an errand, and get back on the TTC without paying a whole new fare—as long as they did so within a certain period of time. There will doubtless be restrictions—the report estimates that an “unrestricted use” time-based transfer valid for two hours would lead to $20 million in lost annual revenue, and one valid for an hour and half would lead to $12 million in lost annual revenue—but TTC spokesperson Brad Ross commented that “providing that revenue can be made up elsewhere, it’s something of course we would embark on.” He also noted that the new transfer system is “something customers have asked for and we would like to provide.”


  • MaryL

    Don’t forget that this is already in use on the St. Clair streetcar. Pretty damn useful for shopping trips on cold days.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    The loss of revenue can be made up with increases in funding from the province and Ottawa. We just need to elect people who take Toronto, and cities, seriously first.

    • tomwest

      It seems odd to give Toronto funding for a policy that is already used by most other Ontario transit systems.

      • tyrannosaurus_rek

        I didn’t mean specifically for this new transfer policy, I mean in general.

        • tomwest

          Ah, OK. It’s just you were talking about makign the “loss of revenue” (from time-based transfers) with funding from the province/feds. Hence my confusion.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            Technically if QP and Ottawa give the TTC $200 million more a year, it offsets the $20 million loss of this transfer plan… :)

    • jimro

      This SHOULD have nothing to do with politics. It SHOULD have everything to do with customer service. But, this is Toronto where everything is politics :)

  • Jacob

    This will get more people on the system. The difference between $6 and $3 for a short trip is huge.

  • wallywhack

    This can be made up by a substantial hit to regular fares. $3.50 anyone? Buy a monthly, weekly or multi-trip pass and there’s no need for time based transfers.

    • futurewidow

      This is a horrible idea. If we raise regular fares it will hit the poor the hardest. If you’re someone between paychecks or waiting for ODSP to come in, you can’t afford to drop $127 at a time, or even $35 for a weekly pass.

      • MaryL

        I walk and cycle mostly, but use the TTC for some client meetings and when the weather is way too windy for a long ride. I have no need for a pass. And as futurewidow points out, many people just can’t afford a pass.

  • lovetoronto

    The TTC Stations need 1. Automated Ticket Machines that except Credit cards and where you can purchase mulit-day, week, monthly passes. Visitors to our City must get so angry. I know I am. 2. Access for the Handicap and the Elderly. It’s incredulous Toronto is SO BEHIND THE TIMES!

    • bobloblawbloblawblah

      There are a number of stations where you can buy passes with a credit card from a machine: Bathurst, Bloor, Union. I doubt we’ll see any more of these machines as the Presto card is due to be implemented over the next dew years.

      • lovetoronto

        Sadly you’re incorrect about what stations provide credit card access.

      • Squintz

        Those machines only take debit.

        • Josh

          Yes, but you can pay with credit at the operator booth.

          • Squintz

            Well that wasn’t the claim and it is a pain to pay with credit at the operator booth. Firstly because there is usually only one at each station. Secondly they are often out of metro passes after the first week of the month or their debit/credit machine is down. And thirdly you usually have to battle with people trying to pay cash/fare at the single pinch point that anyone who tries to use cash on the subway has experienced.
            So while yes you are correct, it certainly isn’t a very good option.

          • jimro

            I was told by an operator that the credit/debit terminal at Keele Station could only be used to buy a Metro pass.

        • bobloblawbloblawblah

          Yeah, I stand corrected. I have bought passes from machines but I guess I paid using debit.

    • nevilleross

      Only to you and people like you obsessed with Toronto getting the latest shiny new electronic toy for use in its transit system; be assured, not everybody is like you. Many of us are concerned with how the elderly and those of limited means can even get on the bus, subway, or streetcar when they don’t have the cash in a bank account to do so (or a cellphone, which is what people will be pressuring the TTC to implement as a means of paying a fare.) The TTC is fine with what they’ve got now; all that’s needed is a premier to bring back full funding, and we wouldn’t worry about fare increases-compared to this, a flashy electronic things that make a beep sound when it takes out your money means nothing.

      • lovetoronto

        People like me? Ha hah nevileross, You have just created a big fight in your won mind. This isn’t about picking fights. The TTC is not “fine with what they’ve got now” Why don’t you and tommy meet us and fight with each other. Hah hah. Brother

  • bobloblawbloblawblah

    I use a Metropass but this idea would encourage more riders allowing people to hop on or off the bus subway. Surely to gawd one of the most prosperous and traffic choked cities in North america can find $20 million for this. Seems to me we should encourage more use of transit and this is a good start.

  • ReadandFeed

    Shhh, don’t tell them …. I run errands between transfers all the time :)

  • wallywhack

    Mark my words, this will mean a large fare increase.

    • OgtheDim

      $20 million on that operating budget is not a big increase.

      • andrew97

        In fact it is 1.25% of the TTC’s budget. So that would be about 5 cents if they clawed it back at the fare box.

        Whoever downvoted you is an idiot.

    • cv

      Vancouver has this time based system, but also has a zone system. So if you have farther to go, you pay more. If you stay within one zone, then you pay the basic fare.

  • torontothegreat

    Many other cities do this. My experience living in Winnipeg and Vancouver is that the time-based transfer was often the reason I would leave my car at home, so IMHO it promoted transit use.

    This is seriously great news, I live on St. Clair and use it all the time, where I would otherwise take a cab or walk.

  • Sean_Marshall

    The other interesting item for the next TTC meeting is a report recommending the rationalization of bus and streetcar stops. I wrote briefly about that here:

  • lovetoronto

    Tommy, No need to apologize to me tommy.

  • tomwest

    The report also states that the extra riders this policy will attract would require more service, and hence cost the TTC money.
    So in TTC-land:
    * More riders = more service = more cost = bad
    * Fewer riders = less revenue = bad.
    So much negativity!

  • cfmsadmin

    Some streetcar lines are over 100 years old, and our subway lines are less than 50, but there are no TTC vehicles in service of any type older than 37 years, around the time that major accessibility movements were happening in the western world. 1981 was World Disability Year. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms (with inclusions for people with disabilities) was written in 1982. This is when an accessibility plan should have been enacted.

    Unfortunately, the pace by which they’re doing it is part of the problem. They only started taking accessibility seriously in 1996 (14 years after the CR&F), and it took almost twenty years since then to hit a point where all bus lines are now accessible. (Note; that doesn’t mean there still aren’t inaccessible buses running on these lines, as I had the pleasure of riding a high-floor bus a month ago on the 75.). And all that means is that there is at least one low-floor bus on a given route.

    Up until 2004, the TTC was *still* buying inaccessible buses for service.

    Our streetcars still aren’t accessible (and they’re some of the most travelled routes), with NO ACCESSIBLE ALTERNATIVES. Our current CLRVs (short streetcars) were being built by an arm of the Ontario government when disability was starting to become a major human rights issue. The ALRV (long, bendy streetcars) were built AFTER the CR&F went into effect until 1989.

    In the subway stations, we’ve averaged less than one accessibility (i.e.; elevator) retrofit per year since they started in 1990. With more than 60 stations and even ramping up to an average of 3 per year, further delays have pushed back the completion until 2025. Even now, they’re still some of the only inaccessible government buildings left in Canada.

    The H-6 Subway cars were built between 1986-1989 (again, after the Charter came down), with centre poles blocking wheelchair access throughout the train. Even assuming long lead times from spec to build, it wouldn’t have taken much money to axe those centre poles and refit with roof bars and flip-up seats (like the later T-1 cars had). Those H-6 trains are still in service, with centre poles and inaccessible seating, and no cars prior were ever retrofitted either.

    I will admit, a lot of the delay is due to lack of money. Right now, the TTC runs threadbare with little operating subsidy from the Province or Feds, and those governments are too eager to spend capital money on buying subway votes, rather than speeding up the process. Up until the Harris administration though, the TTC was pretty financially stable, and at times turned a profit, so ignorance and laziness play at least some part in our current lack of inaccessibility.

  • OgtheDim

    The inertia within TTC management is legendary.

    Don’t forget,
    there are people still there who think monthly, weekly or daily passes
    are a bad idea and that everybody should pay per trip. They are the
    ones that had hissy fits about exchangeable passes.

  • Chris Brown

    The TTC is the only municipal system in the GTHA that doesn’t do time based transfers, doesn’t have Presto (except for a few subway stations) & has no fare integration with its neighbours or GO. It’s well past time for these situations to change. It’s up to Toronto & the province to get together and make this happen. And the sooner, the better!

  • A horse, of course

    This is one of the main reasons I have a Metropass- the ability to get off and on again to run errands or pick things up from places I’m not near often. It’s also much nicer to walk from Bay to Yonge (or vice versa) through Cumberland Terrace than wait to transfer.