Having the ability to travel on the entire TTC system without limit on the same fare within a fixed time-frame would greatly benefit women who disproportionately rely on public transit, a York University professor told the city’s budget committee this week.
Deputing before the city’s budget committee on Monday, Dec. 10, Tricia Wood encouraged the TTC to follow the example of other cities and adopt time-based transfers as a way to prevent the penalization of riders, like women, who use the transit service in a “chain fashion” several times in a given day.
While the TTC issues time-based transfers on the 512 St. Clair West streetcar service for trips made within a two-hour window, Wood wants to see the practice exported to the entire system which would come as a welcome relief for women who must juggle work and family responsibilities, she said.
“You can go very short distances to pick up or drop off kids or grab milk, or anything like that, and you have to pay a fare every single time,” said Wood following her deputation on behalf of the advocacy group Women in Toronto Politics, which seeks to get women more involved in city issues.
“It adds up really quickly.”
Wood acknowledged the “tight corner” the TTC is in having to deliver service on a limited budget with the lowest level of government subsidy in North America.
But, she said her research on the usage of time-based transfers has shown the long term benefits to the city as a whole justifies a potential hit to the TTC’s revenue take, which she estimated to be $15 million.
“Even if it’s true the TTC will suffer a hit to its bottom line experiences in other cities suggest in the long run you come out ahead,” said Wood, who is an associate professor in York’s geography department.
“The loss in individual fares is offset by increased ridership and in the long run leads to increased economic participation which benefits the city as a whole.”
TTC spokesperson Brad Ross declined to comment in-depth about expanding the usage of time-based transfers, but in a tweet he did say the TTC was considering its options as it prepares to adopt the Presto fare system as of 2016.
“Presto will allow us to look at this and other fare options. Too soon, though, to get into any details,” tweeted Ross, who is the TTC’s executive communications director.
Ross also said he was certain the TTC would eventually look into the findings from the St. Clair pilot, which was first introduced in 2005 and continues today.
On Twitter, there was strong support for increased adoption of time-based transfers.
“It should not cost me $12 to use the TTC to run errands,” tweeted Emma Woolley, a frequent online commenter.
“I would use the TTC more if time-based transfer were introduced. Which means you guys could serve me more ads. That’s how it works, right?” tweeted Matthew Braga.
“Time-based transfers actually help suburban riders more as it is harder to connect rides on infrequent routes,” tweeted Alan Smithee, who addressed his comment to city council.
Other transit agencies in Canada have long adopted time-based transfers.
The Edmonton Transit System allows for unlimited use for up to 90 minutes on one fare for all buses and its light rail transit line, as do Calgary and Montreal.
Vancouver’s TransLink also issues timed transfers for buses, passenger ferries and the SkyTrain, but not for its regional West Coast Express train service.