Hearing the appeal of its riders, the TTC is investigating the possibility of switching to a time-based transfer system which would allow riders to re-enter the system travelling in any direction within either a 90 or 120 minute transfer window. The current system permits only one-way continuous trips and prohibits backtracking.
The time-based system - already the standard in many North American cities - would allow riders to make quick errands on a single fare but as Ben Spurr writes, “the new transfers’ most important effect would be to make public transit more equitable, by providing fare relief to the vulnerable groups who rely on the TTC the most.”
“In Toronto (as elsewhere) low-income earners are the biggest users of public transit. According to a 2010 study, 56 per cent of households earning less than $24,000 a year did not own a car, compared to 29 per cent of households making $40,000 or more.”
Transit users in Toronto are also disproportionately female (58.2%). Dr. Kara Santokie, project director for the Toronto Women’s City Alliance says “’timed transfers would ease the burden on low-income women, who are disproportionately new immigrants or from racialized groups, by allowing them to make round trips on a single fare. That’s especially important as fares continue to rise year after year.’”
Scrapping single-trip transfers would also relieve bus and streetcar operators the onerous duty of enforcing the system. The TTC estimated the switch would cost $20 million annually in lost revenue.