Metro Transit fares

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Tcmetro
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby Tcmetro » February 24th, 2017, 1:49 pm

Monday's Transportation Committee meeting has an update about the fare increase. Apparently a policy study was conducted a few years ago, which suggested a simpler fare system by eliminating peak fares, all day reduced fares, local fares for reverse commute express buses, low income discounts, modify discounts for stored value, get rid of free paper transfers (GoTo only).

Current focus is increasing revenue. Apparently they're going to postpone any consideration of peak fare elimination and transfer elimination in the future. The express threshold is being considered to be moved to 5.5 miles (not 5 miles as in the previous SWT presentation).

https://metrocouncil.org/Council-Meetin ... hange.aspx

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I think that the paper transfer elimination and the peak fare elimination would make the fares a lot simpler. Few cities have peak fares for urban transit (Seattle and Washington Metrorail come to mind), and Pittsburgh recently eliminated theirs. A lot of cities are getting rid of the paper transfers and are charging more for cash to get people to use the contactless cards. In Chicago, there is a 25 cent surcharge for cash bus fares, while rail stations charge $3 for a single-ride contactless paper ticket that includes bus transfers. I think that the biggest barrier to getting GoTo usage here is the lack of places where GoTo cards can be bought. MT should develop a policy regarding access to GoTo card machines, to reduce or eliminate cash usage. One last thing that I would like to see is fare capping in lieu of passes. This would give lower-income people the benefits of passes without requiring the larger upfront purchase cost of the pass. Also it would simplify product provision significantly, as there would only be the bus fare listed, no pass prices.

David Greene
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby David Greene » February 24th, 2017, 4:27 pm

Almost everyone one of those fare modifications disproportionately impacts low-income people. I understand the value of GoTo cards for Metro Transit but as Tcmetro says, they need to be much more accessible before we start eliminating paper transfers.

I don't like the way this is going.

amiller92
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby amiller92 » February 24th, 2017, 4:30 pm

Agree with David.


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FranklinAveFixation
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby FranklinAveFixation » February 24th, 2017, 6:56 pm

Tcmetro wrote:
February 24th, 2017, 1:49 pm
Monday's Transportation Committee meeting has an update about the fare increase. Apparently a policy study was conducted a few years ago, which suggested a simpler fare system by eliminating peak fares, all day reduced fares, local fares for reverse commute express buses, low income discounts, modify discounts for stored value, get rid of free paper transfers (GoTo only)
They forgot the college student passes, or do the colleges subsidize them? Not that I'm in favor of it, but college students are paying next to nothing per ride if they use those passes 6-7 days a week.

intercomnut
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby intercomnut » February 24th, 2017, 7:31 pm

Tcmetro wrote:
February 24th, 2017, 1:49 pm
One last thing that I would like to see is fare capping in lieu of passes. This would give lower-income people the benefits of passes without requiring the larger upfront purchase cost of the pass. Also it would simplify product provision significantly, as there would only be the bus fare listed, no pass prices.
Looks like that's similar to what TriMet is testing with their new smart card. So it's definitely possible.

Scott Wood
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby Scott Wood » February 25th, 2017, 5:12 pm

FISHMANPET wrote:
February 20th, 2017, 7:24 pm
The new ones seem to work better for me personally, but I don't ride the bus often enough to have a good sample size. But they seem to get a read faster than the old ones. I used to have to hold my wallet against the reader as I walked into the bus and now as soon as I put my wallet there it beeps and I can pull it away immediately.
The new validators seem to work well with the new cards, but before I replaced my old-style card I was constantly getting read errors from the new validators. With the old validators I'd only get an error if I accidentally touched the card to the validator at an odd angle, but with the new validators trying to read from farther away, it would error out before I could get the card anywhere close.

Tcmetro
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Metro Transit fares

Postby Tcmetro » March 28th, 2017, 4:03 pm

Video is up from last night's Transportation Committee meeting. Two new fare increase scenarios are being considered. One which increases fares by 25 cents with a single express fare, and another which is a 50 cent increase.

Scenario 4 - Local peak $2.50, off-peak local $2, express $3.25
Scenario 5 - Local peak $2.75, off-peak local $2.25, peak express $3.50, off-peak express $2.75

http://metrocouncil.granicus.com/MediaP ... ip_id=2650

mattaudio
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby mattaudio » March 29th, 2017, 8:44 am

Still not talk about charging for parking at park & rides?

Tcmetro
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby Tcmetro » March 29th, 2017, 8:45 am

They should at least be considering a raise in the metropass cost. Or let everyone get an unlimited monthly pass for $76.

talindsay
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby talindsay » March 29th, 2017, 3:54 pm

mattaudio wrote:
March 29th, 2017, 8:44 am
Still not talk about charging for parking at park & rides?
Where would they get the money to put in all the equipment that would be required? I'm not saying it's not a good idea (it may be), but that's a much bigger deal to implement than a fare increase. It's about the same difficulty as switching from proof-of-fare to enforced fare zone for our [BL]RT system.

twincitizen
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby twincitizen » March 29th, 2017, 3:59 pm

Tcmetro wrote:
March 28th, 2017, 4:03 pm
Video is up from last night's Transportation Committee meeting. Two new fare increase scenarios are being considered. One which increases fares by 25 cents with a single express fare, and another which is a 50 cent increase.

Scenario 4 - Local peak $2.50, off-peak local $2, express $3.25
Scenario 5 - Local peak $2.75, off-peak local $2.25, peak express $3.50, off-peak express $2.75

http://metrocouncil.granicus.com/MediaP ... ip_id=2650
So they're really hooked on peak / off-peak fares it seems. We are one of the few metros that (still) do this. We need to get rid of the peak / off-peak distinction, at least for local fares, and move to distance based fares (at least for long-haul express routes).

All local trips $2.50 (or $2.25 if possible). Peak express $3.50, off-peak $3.00. In conjunction, expand the reduced fares for low-income riders program.

Tcmetro
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby Tcmetro » March 29th, 2017, 9:15 pm

I think the off-peak express fare should be eliminated. One, very few express routes operate off-peak. Two, the vast majority of express riders are using discounted passes (U Pass, Metropass) or have monthlies that cover the peak express fare anyways. Weekend express fares are especially egregious as only three express routes operate on weekends (the 675 - soon to become the local 645, the 495 - a demonstration express from Shakopee to MOA, and the 852 - a slow Saturday route that takes over 1 hour to travel from Anoka to Minneapolis).

Pittsburgh has eliminated peak fares and Seattle is looking into eliminating both zones and peak fares. Washington DC has peak fares on the subway system but generally their practices are a dumpster fire that shouldn't be replicated by any city.

Two fares make sense:
Base fare
Express fare - peak-hour service that uses the freeway for more than five or six miles.

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Tiller
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby Tiller » March 29th, 2017, 10:14 pm

twincitizen wrote:
March 29th, 2017, 3:59 pm
Scenario 4 - Local peak $2.50, off-peak local $2, express $3.25
Scenario 5 - Local peak $2.75, off-peak local $2.25, peak express $3.50, off-peak express $2.75
I'll take Scenario 4, please! The local fares are nice, round numbers, and they simplify the express fare.

talindsay
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby talindsay » March 30th, 2017, 8:00 am

Yeah, I like scenario 4 too.

RailBaronYarr
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby RailBaronYarr » March 30th, 2017, 8:44 am

I think just because other metros do/don't have peak vs off-peak doesn't necessarily tell us it's a good or bad idea - I'm interested in why they moved away from it. It's long been a bit crazy to me that we're willing to charge extra for riding a local bus at peak hours but we can't even convert existing interstate lanes to do the same. In theory, I'd be fine with transit pricing trying to signal something to riders to help smooth demand (like tolls). But in reality I'm not sure it matters for many riders on most local routes - I doubt if we looked at time of day boardings on local routes we'd see a massive wave of people getting on just after 9 am or just before 3 PM to beat the price change. Given that, charging more for the bus at peak hours doesn't really speed them up (unless you assume peak fare difference shifted people to other modes) - most of what makes transit slow is external, or even the fact that people have to pay to enter the bus in the first place (compare that to driving, where charging a fee on the freeway proves to vastly improve speeds). There's also the tricky comparison between people riding a public bus on a local street vs people driving a private vehicle on a grade-separated highway. I've argued in the past here that cities should just make riding the bus on a local route free (with maybe LRT and express buses that run on freeways [and in other metros, grade-separated rail] having a higher fare). Anyway, I come down to eliminating the distinction.

But yeah, of the scenarios that MT is actually discussion, #4 seems to be the best.

Can I also just put a plug in here for how adult this conversation is compared to raising the gas tax by $0.15/gal?

Tcmetro
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby Tcmetro » March 30th, 2017, 9:32 am

The concept of the fare difference was actually a discount during off-peak hours to encourage more usage of the transit system. I believe that it was 1997 when the unlimited transfers were created with a two-hour (later expanded to 2.5-hour) time limit. Previously, the transfer system didn't allow for return trips, meaning that a rider would have to pay a second fare for the trip back.

The idea behind the unlimited transfer was to simplify the rules, and getting rid of the peak/off-peak distinction would help. Why should someone be penalized 50 cents for taking the bus at 3:05 pm instead of 2:55 pm?

RailBaronYarr
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby RailBaronYarr » March 30th, 2017, 11:47 am

I agree with you, why should someone be penalized. That said, someone could easily ask the same about our MnPASS lanes which have an arbitrary start time - why be penalized for using a lane when it was free 5 minutes earlier (obviously, our toll setup still allows people the option to drive in the 'free' lane). As I said, there's a legitimate question as to why someone should have to pay to ride a bus at all.

Even the 2.5 hour transfer leaves a lot of trips requiring a second fare for the return. The obvious one is a work shift. But even shorter trips can still get you. Consider that your fare starts the moment you pay - if you ride the bus for 20-30 minutes (not insane given the speed of our buses) and get to where you're going with 10 minutes to spare (say, a doctor appointment or movie or whatever), you've got 2 hours until you *get on* the bus going home. Depending on the headways of the bus you're getting on, you might be waiting anywhere from 5-15 minutes (maybe more) for that bus, plus walk time from wherever you were. A long lunch, doctor appointment, dinner date night, a movie, etc all likely exceed that time budget (and, I'm not sure how it works if you end up transferring to a different bus along the way home when the first bus was within the transfer window). Obviously, if you make enough of these types of trips, a monthly pass is the solution, but that's not easy for the people who would be most affected by a fare hike/etc.

talindsay
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby talindsay » March 30th, 2017, 12:39 pm

You want to talk about being penalized at rush hours? My middle school daughter can ride the bus for 75¢ until 3:00, but at 3:00 the rate jumps all the way to the full adult rush fare of $2.25 - meaning it literally triples from 2:59 to 3:00.

As a side note, our system actually does a really poor job of offering options for independent middle schoolers (and high schoolers who don't attend a participating high school) to ride at anything less than full fare. Once they're 13, they pay full fare all the time, but none of the methods for systematic, automatic reduced fares are available to them - no U-Pass equivalent, most notably. You can send in a paper form to have a ten-ride pass mailed to you for $13.50, but it's one card, and every time (every two weeks!) you have to mail in proof of their age and status, and wait for the new one to arrive in the mail. Why they can't just offer an equivalent to the U-Pass to all middle school and high school kids enrolled in public schools within the seven-county metro, is beyond me. My daughter tells me that many of the kids at her school just ride without paying the fare, and while I don't agree with that, I can appreciate it when Metro Transit doesn't provide them with any option better than paying full fare or dealing with that stupid paper process every two weeks.

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Tiller
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby Tiller » March 30th, 2017, 12:46 pm

Plus 1

My younger siblings have the same problem.

Tcmetro
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Re: Public Transit News and Current Happenings

Postby Tcmetro » March 30th, 2017, 12:52 pm

talindsay wrote:
March 30th, 2017, 12:39 pm
You want to talk about being penalized at rush hours? My middle school daughter can ride the bus for 75¢ until 3:00, but at 3:00 the rate jumps all the way to the full adult rush fare of $2.25 - meaning it literally triples from 2:59 to 3:00.

As a side note, our system actually does a really poor job of offering options for independent middle schoolers (and high schoolers who don't attend a participating high school) to ride at anything less than full fare. Once they're 13, they pay full fare all the time, but none of the methods for systematic, automatic reduced fares are available to them - no U-Pass equivalent, most notably. You can send in a paper form to have a ten-ride pass mailed to you for $13.50, but it's one card, and every time (every two weeks!) you have to mail in proof of their age and status, and wait for the new one to arrive in the mail. Why they can't just offer an equivalent to the U-Pass to all middle school and high school kids enrolled in public schools within the seven-county metro, is beyond me. My daughter tells me that many of the kids at her school just ride without paying the fare, and while I don't agree with that, I can appreciate it when Metro Transit doesn't provide them with any option better than paying full fare or dealing with that stupid paper process every two weeks.
That's a strange practice, might be because it is a middle school? When I was in High School (c.2010) we were able to buy the bus passes in the principal's office. I believe they were one at a time also, and the serial numbers of the cards were noted by hand. A real Youth fare would be nice, a lot of cities seem to be able to offer it as well.


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