TransLink moves closer towards updating fare pricing
By Jillian McMullen, Staff Writer
TransLink has begun phase three of their fare review plan by posting an online survey where commuters can weigh in on how the company should implement fare pricing that better reflects distance travelled.
TransLink first began the review midway through last year with the goal of increasing ridership while also improving system-wide efficiency, according to their website. Between the first two surveys, they have received input from over 43,000 members of the public, most of whom felt the current system is not working well.
The first phase of the review found that customers were dissatisfied with the current system, according to TransLink’s phase one summary report.
“The primary source of dissatisfaction with the current fare system relates to perceptions of inequities around how we price by distance today,” the phase one summary report says.
TransLink attributes the dissatisfaction to the archaic three-zone system.
“[The three-zone system was] originally adopted in 1984 [and] has remained largely unchanged for more than 30 years,” the phase one summary report states. “In this time, the region has grown by over one million people. We have grown from a system based entirely on buses to one that includes an extensive rail rapid transit network.”
The second phase of the review proposed options for how TransLink could price their fares to reflect distance: By eliminating zones altogether, modifying zone boundaries, or measuring trip distance. It found most respondents felt zone elimination was appropriate for buses, while measured distance was more appropriate for rail service. This new phase suggests shortlisted options for distance-based fare pricing.
The current survey proposes two main options: The first would see prices determined by kilometer on rapid transit with a flat rate for buses; the second would see all forms of transportation priced per kilometer. While both options would cap prices after a maximum fare is reached, the different options would affect fare prices differently. The review’s discussion guide claims the first option would lower prices for SeaBus trips, shorter two or three-zone SkyTrain trips, and short SkyTrain trips across current zone boundaries but raise prices for longer SkyTrain rides. The second option would lower most short trip pricing while raising the price of trips over five kilometers.
Updating pricing will also affect how riders calculate their fares, so the review also addresses options for fare products, particularly with frequent riders in mind, as well as expanding fare discounts to low-income citizens.
TransLink is urging anyone who is interested in sharing their ideas and opinions to go to the discussion forum located on their website. The deadline to give feedback to the survey is December 8.