What should fares by distance look like?

Would you prefer a system that prices fares by kilometre on the rapid transit, but maintains a single-zone on buses?

Watch the video to learn more about the options and how they would affect prices. Read the Discussion Guide to learn more about the options for distance travelled.

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  • If you travel 3 stops on the bus you should not pay the same as someone traveling 6 stops or 9 or 12. Zones should be eliminated. Fares should be on distance traveled only  

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  • I think maintaining a single fare for bus travel is ok but a better variable pay scheme for rapid transit should be considered.  Most of the costs for the transit system is for the rapid transit STATIONS so the variable pay scheme should be based on the number of stations passed by on a trip.  More stations = higher fare.  This eliminates the complexity of having to know the varied km distances between each station and aligns better with the actual costs associated with the transit system.  At launch it would be politically best if the minimum fare, max cap fare and per station cost were set so that everyone will pay no more than they do under the current system.  This should make it fairer for both shorter and longer trip riders and encourage higher ridership.  Once there is a years (365 days) worth of data of lower per trip revenue and increased trips revenue, the level of fares can be adjusted to make it revenue neutral (or improve cost recovery).  This also provides an incentive to extend rapid transit stations (beyond and between existing ones) to further increase the number of potential riders within x meters of a station (more stations added mean more per station charges).  

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  • I think the fares should be discussed with both Translink and BC Transit if you're thinking about the fare distance. BC Transit has extended from Chilliwack to Langley. And the Sea to Sky Express bus is coming from Whistler to Vancouver. We need to think of a bigger picture instead of getting around Greater Vancouver. Translink was supposed to be South Coast Transportation Authority from Pemberton to White Rock and from UBC to Hope. CMBC (Coast Mountain Bus Company) & West Vancouver Buses are part of Translink, BC Transit in Whistler and Chilliwack is not. Therefore, Translink will always be the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority.

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  • So how do you track your distance? based on the video it really doesn't sound much different than the zone system (i.e further away costs more) how much does the cost of the trip increase? is it 10 cents a km? 20? 

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  • GT Joe Thanks for your thoughts. The proposed new fare structure is designed to be revenue neutral.

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  • Daniel Szilagyi The proposed structure would track distance by kilometer. Although the zone system is in theory distance-based, there are many cross-zone trips that are short distances (for example Bridgeport Station to Marine Drive on the Canada Line). A kilometer-based system of measurement is designed to better reflect actual distance travelled. Based on the two proposed options, trips would either start at $2.10 or $2.20. The first 5 kilometers traveled would be a flat rate, and additional kilometers travelled would increase the cost of the fare by a certain number of cents per kilometer. There would be a cap on the price of any given fare.

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  • Al Varty Thanks for your feedback.

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  • Stefan Parker This sounds like a giant and confusing headache for both Translink and customers, how do you expect people to figure out exactly how much a trip will cost? are they going to have to whip out Google maps and try and calculate the distance before getting on? or use an app? some routes are longer simply because of how the stations have been built, it's not as if i have a choice to make my route shorter or cheaper in this respect.

    Seriously all Translink has to do is copy one of any of the other major cities in the US for how their transit system looks and works...heck just look at Seattle, you can get from downtown to the airport for $2.50, flat fee and it's simple.

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  • Daniel Szilagyi Hi Daniel,

    First of all, thank you for taking the time to give us such detailed feedback. In considering a new transit fare system, previous phases of consultation revealed that Metro Vancouver residents favoured a distance-based system over flat rates. Kilometer-based fares are designed to increase the level of fairness in the system so that each resident's use of the system is more proportional to the cost of their fare.

     

    Of course, administering this proposed system does have challenges. In option 1 (flat rate buses, distance-based Rapid Transit), a simple table would be posted at each SkyTrain or West Coast Express Station that tells users exactly how much a fare to any given station would cost. All bus trips would cost one flat rate.

     

    Under Option 2 (distance-based for both bus and Rapid Transit), we would provide information at each station so that users can easily see the cost of a SkyTrain fare to the station they want to get to. For bus service, this is admittedly more complicated. We would develop an app by which users could calculate the cost of their bus trip in advance. Of course, once you become accustomed to the price of your regular transit trips, the system will become more intuitive.

     

    As part of our planning and research, we make sure to look at how other systems operate. What we heard from residents in Phase 1 and Phase 2 of consultation was that they preferred a non-flat rate system with a lower base price as opposed to a higher base price for a flat rate fare system. Essentially, we have attempted to put forth two proposals that reflect the issues of fairness highlighted by residents, while maintaining as much simplicity in the fare structure as possible.

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  • Choosing to vary the fare by distance traveled on buses will likely dramatically affect the cost per trip for those who rely on community shuttles to get around, as those routes are generally not as direct as other routes. For example, the C62 from a location in Walnut Grove to Langley Centre is about 18 km on the bus, but can be driven in 9 km by car. Currently, a user pays $2.10 with stored value, but using the approximate per km prices outlined under Option 2, and assuming I'm doing the math correctly, the user would be paying $3.50-$4.15 per trip instead. That means they have the potential to pay almost double what they pay now.

    Given that transit users cannot choose the route their bus follows, and those on the community shuttles already 'pay' extra in terms of both time spent on the bus travelling routes that are not direct and time spent dealing with infrequent service (often every 30 min during the day and 60 min in the evening), I would be in favour of maintaining a single fare for bus travel.

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  • SKoole Thank you very much for your well-considered comments.

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  • I take skytrain for 1 station then take the bus. Do I have to pay for train and bus separately then?

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  • SKoole As per your comments, our planners have considered dealing with the problem of in-direct bus routes in a number of ways under Option 2.  Trips such as the one you have identified would not be subject to distance-based pricing determined simply by how far an actual bus goes. The distance-based fare would instead be calculated on the shortest distance between your origin and destination by road. So if your bus makes a detour that adds an extra kilometer to your trip, you won't be charged for this extra kilometer.

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  • Stefan Parker  Would this also include skytrain routes?  If I get on  at Royal Oak  and get off at Sperling/Burnaby Lake, for example, would the route be calculated based on skytrain distance or actual distance as though you drove straight there?  (This could change the fare from being one of the highest cost ones to one of the lowest)

    I understand you likely won't know the answer right now, but is that something that is also being considered?

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  • I prefer option 1 (until the bus fareboxes have been upgraded similar to rapidKL bus fareboxes prior to the fare structure change, and validators and fare gates have been upgraded with an additional function to support Sony FeliCa and a longer contactless IC sensor detection range (http://news.mynavi.jp/photo/articles/2016/07/15/nfc/images/016l.jpg http://news.mynavi.jp/photo/articles/2016/07/15/nfc/images/018l.jpg ; Article: http://news.mynavi.jp/articles/2016/07/15/nfc/001.html )) as it is easier and simpler to predict bus fare yet rapid transit must be more proportional and fair (with minimum and maximum caps). Also rapid transit requires users to tap in and out and it is a faster mode of transport. There are ticket vending machines inside and outside of stations and the user interface should be customized so price is displayed based on the destination station selected (still distance based). Regarding buses, the current fareboxes has yet to be upgraded to something similar to rapidKL bus fareboxes. Also there are more bus stops than SkyTrain stations so it is harder to predict if it is distance-based unless every bus stop has a WiFi hotspot and a map on the pole with fares listed for each destination stop along every bus route the stop is served by.

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  • Jeremy Leung Sorry, there is a problem with one of the links. Here is the link: http://news.mynavi.jp/photo/articles/2016/07/15/nfc/images/016l.jpg

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  • Riasat Abir You would not, everything is built around the compass system that can account for this without charging you for a transfer.

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  • J W Great question. Calculating SkyTrain distance based on the actual distance between two stations rather than the track length between two stations is in fact being considered. We are not yet sure exactly what this would look like, but we are aware of these issues and are developing ways to ensure that customers are not penalized simply due to already existing infrastructure.

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  • Jeremy Leung Thanks for your comments. Although there are technical issues that need to be addressed, a change in fare structure would not require major investments in new hardware. The vast majority of the hardware currently in place including Compass Card readers, vending machines, and fare gate are ready for a new fare structure. In consideration of option 2, bus distance could be calculated using an app and would not require significant new infrastructure at bus stops such as WiFi and stop maps.

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  • Flat rate only 

    .why penalize people that could not afford to live in Vancouver  ? 

    Riders  that live in Vancouver can afford to pay higher fares ...as opposed to Surrey travellers who bought  housing in Surrey  because that is what they could afford.

    Make all  fares on Skytrain $3.50 flat rate !

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  • If  I read this correctly that 60% of passengers don't like or understand the 3 fare zone system, than it seems that 40% do! London, England with a similar pay system to Compass has up to 8 zones. I feel that our present 3-zone system with one zone for buses is pretty straightforward. The short trip/crossing a zone boundary issue could be resolved with either a common zone or more zones or both. If SkyTrain becomes paid for by distance or by the number of stops passed, this will look like a fare zone system.

    A concern with pay by distance on SkyTrain is that you may not know in advance what a trip will cost. Maybe not an issue with a Compass card with stored value, but an issue for tourists and single trip cash payers.

    How will distance travelled be measured? Suburban bus routes are of necessity indirect, meaning more distance travelled than as-the-crow-flies. Even SkyTrain is somewhat indirect, eg Main Street to Waterfront.

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  • Will people leaving the airport still be charged the $5 surcharge?  How will airport employees who go every work day be accommodated?

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  • Stefan Parker Thank you for your reply! In order for me to consider option 2, I need to know more details about how the new technology for check out would work. Also I did considered WiFi and stop maps (although stop maps (when integrated with route schedules) should not cost as much as installing WiFi infrastructure) so users without any carrier subscription and any smartphone or tablet (including tourists and technology-illiterate users) can still predict their fare before boarding (especially when cellular reception is poor). Bus stop WiFi is to provide free internet access for users with no data plan, devices with no cellular capabilities (including WiFi-only devices and no cellular adapters), users not subscribed to any mobile carriers, etc.

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  • David King Since there are CVMs (Compass Vending Machines) outside the fare paid zone, as long the interface is programmed so the user selects the destination station, the CVM and AFC (Automated Fare Collection) network system automatically calculate the rapid transit fare based on user's current station and destination station, and the user pays, it should not be a big issue compared to calculating distance-based bus fares. I prefer option 1 by the way due to simplicity, the technology available, and the bus fareboxes (in order for me to consider option 2, one requirement is the fareboxes be upgraded to something similar to these: New Bus Ticketing System - RapidCard, AFC | Smart Mobility | Solution & Service | Korea Smart Card, Kuala Lumpur | System Delivery | Global Reference | Korea Smart Card).

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  • Stefan Parker My suggestion was to be revenue NEGATIVE to change to any new system and then get more revenue POSITIVE over time.  Over time, to encourage a movement from private to public transportation, it might be desirable to  let it be overall revenue negative if the overall social benefit is valued by our electorate.  

    One other issue is why do we need to rely on tap cards when an event like the Sun Run can process over 40,000 people passing through a wide path finish line with just a small rfid chip embedded in the bib they wear on their shirt.  Putting a similar chip in a lanyard necklace or bracelet or a shirt pin (give users a choice of which jewelry they want) would allow for a more seamless ride experience.  

    Note that over 2/3 of the population now have smartphones with at least a basic dataplan and by the time any of the changes can be implemented it may be over 80% eventually on the way to essentially everyone who can move independently (and many of those who unfortunately cannot).  Wifi is a nice to have now and in the past, but with the imminent arrival of ubiquitous 5G cell networks in MetroVan, I don't think it will be so essential in the future here.  

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