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Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Harder Way

There are all kinds of methods by which TTC could improve service, methods that do not require testing beyond the proven real-world success other systems not far away already deploy. One topic with many opportunities is fare.


There are kiosks/vending machines that emit monthly passes. A few scattered here and there in select few stations. But why can't there be tons of them everywhere, such as in every station as well as at libraries, post offices, convenience stores, malls - why not make them more accessible to the paying commuter? Other transit systems broadcast that fare vending machines are available "at hundreds of locations." Makes it easier, right?

At left is a Viva bus shelter, all nice and spacious and modern.

Not only does it have an electronic display offering real-time schedule information, but it also sells fare. Imagine, being able to buy fare at a bus shelter. What a novel concept. 

So, how impossible can it be make TTC fare as accessible to people as Viva fare is?

Monthly passes 
The way TTC sells monthly passes - available only for a limited time, only at a select few stations, and only for calendar months - is utterly ridiculous.
There are not a few systems (such as New York City and Chicago) that sell passes throughout the month - every day, in other words. The passes are activated the first day it is used, and it's good for 30 days from that date. Simple. Civilized. Dignified. Rocket science?
The pass works around the important party - the paying commuters, who have different lives and transit needs and can't all fit neatly into the imposition of calendar-monthly distributed passes.
What does TTC do? Make people in the biggest city in the country line up at a few stations, with lines snaking through the stations, and wait...and wait....and wait....to buy a pass that is only on sale for a few days each month, for a pass that is only good for a calendar month (keeping in mind that these people are part of 12% of this entire nation's GDP - if we could get the moving faster, how much impact might that have on the economy?) 
If you miss that sliver of opportunity, you're out of luck for the rest of the month. Shame on you for being late. Tough luck.
Honour system
The honour ("proof of payment") system has previously been discussed here at Toronto My Way, several times. It's worth repeating that this approach:
  • is not neither mysterious nor exotic - both Go Transit as well as Viva are two systems serving the GTA that use it. It ain't rocket science.
  • speaks not only to efficiency but also to safety
Using TTC is stressful, for commuters as well as for operators and other staff. There are opportunities to reduce that stress and the above are just a few. What do Torontonians get? Excuses, a lack of vision, a lack of leadership, a lack of courtesy, a lack of service, a lack of convenience.
And they have the gall to call it "the better way"?

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