Thursday, January 03, 2008

A new year and a new way

Hello all,

How're things? Good.

Yesterday, I made a biggish change in my travel arrangements. After much deliberation, I made the switch from TTC tokens to the metropass.

This was not done without reservations. The main stumbling block is that the metropass is way too expensive. Currently, the metro pass costs $109. Basically, that's a dollar less than taking the TTC at full price to work and back for four weeks (5 days a week X 2 X $2.75).

Fair (fare?) enough.

If one were to use tokens, however, the 4 week cost drops to just $90 dollars. One has to take at about 10 more rides to equal what they would pay for a metropass. I'm a pretty dedicated transit rider and I'm not totally sure if it will work out in my favour most months. I'm testing the waters this month, but I may go back to tokens for next month.

There is a convenience factor to the metropass that is undeniable. Especially for me because I start most of my TTC journeys with a bus trip to the subway. If I forget to pick up tokens on the way home, I'm stuck paying full fare to get back downtown. There is also the tax break that comes with using the metropass.

This is not really enough, in my opinion. Take a look at New York's system and you will see what we should be aspiring to. Smart fare cards instead of tokens, an insurance system to protect against lost or stolen cards, discounts for city attractions for metrocard owners and a price that is much more reasonable than our own ($76 US for 30 days). Chicago's pass is $75 US. L.A.'s is $62 US.

I know it is hard to compare US transit systems to our own. Fine. Forget that last paragraph but think about this: Montreal's monthly pass is only $66.25 a month. That is in spite of the fact that their cash fare is the same as the TTC's ($2.75).

I do not mind paying my fair share. I just think that the inflated rates we currently face are unrealistic and counter productive. A monthly pass is supposed to make it cheaper to ride. Toronto's does so only in the most meagre way. It also prices itself out of the hands of a lot of people. If the passes were substantially cheaper, I believe you would have more riders.

Of course, then the system would have to accomodate the extra riders. Right now, the TTC seems more intent on digging a tunnel to the super walmart at jane and 7 then it is about actually increasing/improving service.

But that's just my opinion. As it's time to go to work, I'll leave that topic for another day.

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