Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Fare Hikes around the world as TfL freezes fares for 4 years!

Back in February 2015, I published an article about fare rises on various public transport services around the world.
As London Transport fares are frozen for four years, with the exception of Travelcards, Pay-as-You-Go caps and National Rail fares; I have reproduced some articles below covering transport fare rises from around the world - mostly from the United States.

First off, the transport system in Chicago approved fare rises and a pay increase for the CEO.

The Metra Board voted to approve a pay raise for their CEO Donald Orseno Wednesday, a month after the rail agency’s third fare hike in the last three years.

In the unanimous vote, board members said the 32-year Metra veteran was underpaid compared to other rail industry executives.

Orseno’s $28,000 raise will bump his salary from $289,000 to $317,500 annually.

Metra board chairman Norman Carlson told the Chicago Tribune Orseno often works more than 60 hours a week and is “earning less than his counterparts on the east and west coasts," despite having higher qualifications and more experience.

New York's suburban Metro-North railway president earns $338,692 per year, the Chicago Tribune reports, while the highest-ranking executive at California's Metrolink rail system makes $330,000 annually.

In November, the board voted in favor of its third fare increase for commuters in as many years. The hike, approved with a 9-1 vote, was part of a $1.06 billion 2017 budget proposal introduced last month, which included a nearly 6 percent increase for riders. It’s also part of a larger plan put in place last year that would increase fares every year 10 years.

“No one likes to pay higher fares, but unfortunately we can’t ignore our need for more money to invest on our system,” Orseno said in a statement at the time. “We hope our customers understand that we are trying to address a serious capital funding shortfall as best we can.”

The latest hike will raise the cost of a monthly pass by $11.75, a 10-ride by $2.75 and a one-way ticket by .25 cents. The price change is expected to take effect early next year.

Metra says the higher fares will allow for modernization and upgrades that will ultimately reduce delays on its lines. It will also help pay for a federally mandated system used to avoid and prevent trains from colliding, Metra officials said.

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority has postponed their fare rises until February.


Following public outcry from riders, RIPTA will be delaying fare increases until February, the agency announced Monday night.

Earlier this year, the agency said that senior, disabled, and low-income residents would no longer receive free fares.

The increase was supposed to go into effect on Jan. 1, but RIPTA issued a one-month delay to give riders more time to adjust.

“RIPTA claims that it has budget issues, but I don’t think they should balance their budget problems on the backs of poor seniors and disabled adults,” said Ray Gagne of the RI Organizing Project.

RIPTA will then start charging $0.50 per trip and $0.25 for transfers under the reduced fare program, which Gagne says some won’t be able to afford.

“I met with a man the other day. He lives in a group home. He has $5 a week in spending money. How is he going to afford the bus?” he asked.

In a statement, RIPTA said:

“There are about 13,000 low-income seniors and low-income persons with disabilities in our program. Those passengers took about 5.7 million trips on RIPTA in Fiscal (Year) 2016. That means that we received no fare for one in every four passengers. This is not sustainable.”

“Everybody ought to be able afford to ride the RIPTA bus. In some cases, it’s the only way people can get to the doctor,” said Gov. Gina Raimondo. “We’re doing everything we can. We’d love for it to be 0, but we have budgetary constraints.”

“The governor and RIPTA needs to find a permanent funding stream for the program,” added Gagne. “I think it will cost the state more in the end because if elders get isolated, they get depressed. If they get depressed, it can lead to dementia. That can lead to nursing home care. So, it’s at odds with the broader healthcare policies of the state.”

State law required RIPTA to give free rides to low-income seniors and disabled passengers, but in the spring of 2015, lawmakers allowed the agency to start charging a fare, as long as it was no more than half the price of a full fare.

Looking at New York City, the MTA system will be raising their fares which come into effect on March 19th 2017.

From MTA Press release

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has unveiled two options for needed increase to fares and tolls over the next two years by less than 4 percent – or an average of 2 percent annually, consistent with the financial forecast made in July. The MTA’s continued discipline in keeping costs down has resulted in the lowest increase since 2009, when the MTA committed to a biennial schedule to keep adjustments as small and predictable as possible.

Just over half of the MTA’s $15.6 billion annual operating budget comes from fares and tolls. Yet the MTA has achieved nearly $1.8 billion in 2016 annual savings, with more cost cutting planned every year to hold increases to a minimum.

“The MTA continues to keep its promise to make sure that fare and toll increases, while necessary to keep our system running, remain as low and possible and that they are done in as equitable a way as possible,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “Fare and toll revenue cover just 51 percent the operating budget, which is why this modest increase is needed to ensure that subway, rail, bus and paratransit services continue operate safely and reliably and to fuel the region’s economic and financial growth.”

The proposals will be the subject of eight public hearings across the MTA region in December. The MTA Board will review public input before a final proposal is selected and voted on by the full Board in January. The new fares and tolls will take effect on March 19, 2017.

The following are details of the fare and toll options for each MTA service. Both options generate approximately the same revenue for the MTA.

New York City Subway and Buses
The MTA offers several ways to pay for rides on subways, buses and the Staten Island Railway. Two fare structures are being considered that treat the base fare and bonus rides differently, however changes to 7-day and 30-day unlimited ride MetroCards are the same in both proposals.

Proposed changes are as follows:
Fare Type
Plan A
Plan B
Base MetroCard Fare/ Local Bus Cash Fare
11% with $5.50 purchase
5% with $5.50 purchase
16% with $6.00 purchase
Effective Fare with Bonus
Single Ride Ticket (base MetroCard/Cash Fare plus 25 cents)
Express Bus Fare
   MetroCard with Bonus



30-Day MetroCard
7-Day MetroCard
7-Day Express Bus Plus MetroCard
Access-a-Ride Fare

Also, there’s a proposal for the ‘Freedom Ticket’ which is a similar scheme to London Transport’s Travelcard.

Freedom Ticket proposal revived amid looming MTA fare hikes

The looming MTA fare hike has reignited the push from officials for the Freedom Ticket, a proposal that would bridge bus, subway and commuter rail service within New York City under one fare-payment option.

By allowing riders to transfer seamlessly between Metro-North or the Long Island Railroad and the city’s bus and subway system, the idea could drastically cut hours from subway riders’ commute every week, while lowering the number of people packing onto some of its most crowded lines, according to the New York City Transit Riders Council, which introduced the proposal last year.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams’ office said it will be teaming up with Queens Borough President Melinda Katz to once again advocate for the payment option along the LIRR’s Atlantic Branch as the MTA begins hosting eight public hearings around its two fare hike proposals.

Adams said he views the ticket as a cheap option that would improve commutes in transit-starved— but now also quickly developing — areas of his borough, like East New York and Bedford-Stuyvesant. A monthly Freedom Ticket, priced against the current fare rates, would cost $215 — that’s between 28 percent and 36 percent less than the value of combined monthly LIRR and MetroCard costs for riders on the branch.

“We need to ensure we have transit equality for people struggling to make ends meet,” said Adams. “Without the capital funding to get more trains online, this is the best we can do with what we have.”

The Council has already eyed the Atlantic Branch of the LIRR as the first branch to pilot the ticket. It estimates that opening the commuter rail line could shorten intra-city commutes by as much as 40 hours a month—including in areas of southeast Queens, where LIRR stations sit beyond .8 miles from the nearest subway.

“As I have stated before, many of the boroughs have this wonderful rail infrastructure running through them,” said Andrew Albert, who chairs the Council and sits on the MTA board. “But many residents can’t cover the fares to ride them—where to ride them would greatly reduce their travel times to work.”

Albert argues that implementing the card could actually make the MTA money, since it could entice more outer-borough commuters to spring for a $215 Freedom Ticket over a $116.50 monthly MetroCard without overburdening LIRR service.

The MTA, though, is in the midst of weighing two fare hike proposals to implement this March. Either option would increase the monthly MetroCard to $121. The base MetroCard fare could increase to $3.

That prospect has furthered discussion within the MTA for several social fare policies as well, like half-priced MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers.

“Each one of these proposals has merit and challenges not all the same,” said Fredericka Cuenca, MTA’s director of strategic initiatives, at last month’s MTA board meeting. “It’s not always cost; it’s not always operations. But we’re going to be continuing to look at these.”

The MTA will host its first public hearing on fare and toll hikes on Monday, December 5, in Queens.

The good news is that Clark County transport won’t be raising their fares or taxes as they approve a new budget.

With its new budget, C-Tran plans to expand services and make several capital investments during the two-year, 2017-2018 cycle without raising taxes or passenger fares.

On Dec. 13, the C-Tran Board of Directors adopted the 2017-18 biennial budget, which outlines $122 million in net operating expenses and just under $133 million in revenue.

The agency projects a 17.5 percent increase in its sales tax revenue over the prior biennial budget.

C-Tran spokeswoman Christine Selk said the agency doesn't plan to increase rider fares or bring any new tax measures to the voters.

The agency plans to add about 20,000 service hours to its fixed routes over the next two years. Selk said the agency will decide later how those extra hours will be distributed into the system, noting that the agency is still trying to return its service levels to where they were before a big reduction a few years ago.

"We're debating internally improved frequency versus expanded service and if we can we get both somehow," she said. "If there would be any new routes (it) won't be until 2018."

The agency also plans to hire 18 fixed-route and 15 C-Van drivers.

C-Tran expects to make five significant capital investments in the budget. Over the next two years, the agency plans to replace 80 bus stop shelters, purchase 10 replacement buses, study potential future routes of the next Bus Rapid Transit line and invest in new operations management software.

C-Tran also plans to pay for a study for a new park-and-ride somewhere in east Vancouver, and expects to release requests for proposals in 2017.

But, when it comes to an exact location, "nothing is close to being settled on, which is why we need to do a study," Selk said.

The agency also will look at the possibility of constructing a new operations and administration building as part of the facilities master plan, Selk said in an email.

"We're extremely early in the process," she wrote.

To finish the article off, I bring bad news from the Scottish bus firm ‘Xplore Dundee’ who have announced fare rises due to congestion and the increasing popularity of online shopping.

Dundee’s biggest bus firm has announced fares are to go up due to congestion and the increasing popularity of online shopping.

Xplore Dundee has also blamed growing car ownership for the price hike, which is set to come into force on January 2.

As a result of the changes, a max single fare will rise from £2 to £2.10, while the cost of an adult daysaver will go up from £3.70 to £3.80.

A spokeswoman for Xplore said the decision had been made after an annual review of operating costs and revenue.

She added: “In an economic climate which continues to challenge all aspects of life, three issues in particular have affected the way we operate our network.

“Car ownership has significantly increased, the popularity of online shopping has increased and the volume of traffic on our roads has increased, causing congestion.”

The spokeswoman said delays associated with congestion — particularly at peak times — mean the firm has to dedicate more resources to maintain a frequent service on core routes.

She added: “This results in extra costs to cover driver, vehicles and fuel. More than half of our costs are committed to staff wages, which increase in line with the cost of living, as we are an employer that is proud to be accredited by the Living Wage Foundation.”

Coldside councillor Helen Wright — who has campaigned for a better bus service for her constituents following changes to timetables earlier this year — said she was shocked and disappointed at the price rise.

She said: “They are saying traffic congestion is one of the reasons for the rise. But how can they realistically think they are going to encourage more people to use the buses and leave their cars at home if they put the prices up?

“They should be dropping the cost of travelling on the buses, not putting the price of tickets up.”

Xplore managing director Elsie Turbyne said: “These revised fares will help us to continue to support our workforce of more than 300 people and maintain our fleet and network in 2017.

“We are doing our best to ensure that Dundee’s bus fares are among the lowest of any major Scottish city.”

Xplore made profits of more than £1m in both 2014 and 2015 and its revenue increased by £250,000 in 2015.

As always, I invite you to follow me on Twitter and Google Plus which is @CLondoner92


  1. HAHAHAHA, seriously, have you been caught up in the Major of Londons propaganda tweets and press releases as well?
    'Fare Hikes around the world as TfL freezes fares for 4 years!'.... Come off it. Then the next row once you have clicked on the article
    'with the exception of Travelcards, Pay-as-You-Go caps and National Rail fares'
    So Travelcards and pay as you go caps are not included, which must be a large wack on the London commuting population?
    Can you not write article on the over hyped propaganda which is the no fares rises..... apart from commuters who are forced to take the service and forced to pay the higher fares, it is a joke.
    Sorry for being harsh, but come on...

    1. Hi Eric, thanks for the comment.

      I haven't been looking at the Mayor of London's Twitter page, in fact, I don't look at Twitter much except to post links. I know people who like him and I know people who don't like him, whereas I tend to see the pros and cons of situations, that's why I tend to avoid politics.

      I prefer to show the news as it is and I sometimes offer my opinions in the articles I write. I like to show both sides of a story to encourage the readers to make their own minds up with the articles I publish. I do like to show what various transport systems around the world are up to with regards to providing their services.

      London Transport and TFL have been raising fares every year so I find the 'four year fare freeze' quite interesting, also, you have to remember that if fares stayed the same then TFL/London Transport would have to look elsewhere to cover their costs. I know there are pros and cons and I've seen comments on other sites from people prefering to pay higher fares than to pay high council taxes, which in turn subsidise the transport services. The reason for this is due to people from the outer London boroughs that would rather drive everywhere, so obviously for them, higher fares trump higher council taxes - and of course, another reason they prefer to drive is due to a lack of transport connections outside of London.

      As stated in my previous article, I mentioned the Pay-As-You-Go caps and that Travelcards will continue to rise by 1.8% because they are set and agreed upon by the private train operating companies. So this is an issue concerning the UK government as they privatised the train services during the 1990's.

      I know that fare rises are very unpopular and that they affect peoples budgets. I also find it odd that despite the rises, usage continues to increase.

      Again, this is not a political blog, this is a transport blog which shows things as they are...... that said though, I can see the irony in the opening paragraph that you pointed out and maybe I should have worded it differently.

      Anyway, thanks for your comment.


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