Sunday, December 1, 2013

Metrolinx proposes 4.8% increase on PRESTO fares for GO Transit customers

TRANSLATION: You'll be paying $0.31 more a ride (or 62 cents extra a day). I am saying you will because the fare increase will be approved. Historically, they always are.

The very first slide of this PowerPoint presentation expected to be given during a December 5th Metrolinx board meeting rationalizes in its first bullet point that "GO Transit has, for the most part, increased fares annually".

I plan on working for the next 20 years. Does this mean I can expect by 2033 that I will pay almost $30 a day to get to work? That is cray-cray.

I've always been open that I can't math. But according to this economic chart that chronicles Canada's annual inflation rate, a 4.8% annual increase in GO Transit fares is a lot higher that 0.70%.

I'm not implying it's not needed or unjustified to raise fares. Someone has to pay for all of these ambitious Metrolinx projects but at some point, an organization needs to look at its own "gravy train" rather than picking clean the pockets of its customers every year to pay for shiny new buses that break down mid-trip and charging stations for electric cars that, according to my sources, have remained empty all day at the Whitby GO station since they were unveiled - it's still early to call this one a waste of money. We need to give the good folks in Whitby/Brooklin/Myrtle time to cough up the $30,000 plus needed to buy a Nissan Leaf. How much did it cost to put in those EV charging stations at five stations? Between the installation, cost of equipment, testing and payment processing back-end, I am sure it was more than $2.50 - the cost of a charge.

Bah! At least Toronto got its 3-station billion dollar Scarborough subway and a Sheppard subway that has yet to see full passenger capacity. In perspective, we can't really complain. There are parts of Ontario, such as the north, that had the plug pulled on its provincially funded transit in 2012. The Northlander train service that ran between Cochrane and Toronto was shut down.

But this is the cost of living in Ontario, right? GTA wins and the rest drive their cars.

Full disclosure, I am not an economist but I don't think it's a fare increase. I will hope that once all these projects are done. We can enjoy stabilized fares for a few years.


Anonymous said...

Just watch the number of fare cheats increase once again.

We need a price ceiling on all transit fares.

Bicky said...

That's four times the rate of inflation!!! My pay increase barely meets that.

They have to watch how much they increase fares. Raise them too much and they will drive people back to their cars. Two people can drive in cheapter than taking the train.

And while they pretend to debate it, it's pretty much just rubber-stamped.

On a side note, the two charging stations came online this week and there's yet to be a car parked there. Unless they arrive after I do and depart before I'm there.

Michael Suddard said...

CJ, to help you with the math, let's look at another charging station that was installed in Ontario. Ottawa City Hall had one put in as a pilot project. Here is the math that might mirror what Metorlinx installed:

Installation cost (i.e. put the damn thing in place): $25,000

Cost of electricity over 10 months: $200


Let's remember the cost of electricity is also going up courtesy of Ontario Energy Board, Ontario Power Generation and anyone else involved.

This may be part of why the price of fares are going up with GO Transit courtesy of Metrolinx.

April said...

Yes Michael, it might be. Except one train holds 2000 people and it is full on the LSE every day. Out of Oshawa alone there are 4 trains between 7 am and 8 am. All full.

Taking just those 4 trips on that ONE line (not including the trips that happen before 7 or after 8 am, or on the other lines that are also running trains at capacity) - To get those people to and from work is an addition 62 cents a day for 8,000 people. $4,960 A DAY in extra revenue from those trips alone. With an average number of work days of 22 days per month, that is $109,120 a month in extra revenue.

The LSEers just paid for 4 pumps plus the electricity, and there is over $8,000 left in the pot.

In one month.

And Metrolinx is insuring that I will never be able to afford an electric car to take advantage of one of those spots.

April said...

Ensuring. Damn it. I need to use spell check.

I realize that Michael is from Ottawa and maybe isn't familiar with GO transit. Let me break it down a bit better.

There are 7 train lines, plus buses. Fares are based on how far you travel on the system. Some people will pay 62 cents a day more, some people will pay less and others will pay more.

Most of the trains run at capacity in the morning and evenings, but for the sake of argument, we will only look at the trains that arrive at Union Station (the major downtown hub) between 8 and 9 a.m. The height of rush hour.

There are 5 on the Lakeshore East, 7 on the Lakeshore West, 2 on the Richmond Hill line, 5 on the Milton line, 3 on the Kitchener/Georgetown line, 2 on the Stouffville line, and 2 coming in on the Barrie line.

26 trains, with (over) 2,000 people per train is 52,000 wallets moving through Union Station between 8 and 9 a.m. At 62 cents a day, for 22 days in a month that is $709,280 per month and $8,511,360 a year.

310 electric car charger stations, including the monthly cost of electricity, in each year.

I can math. I can also smell a cash grab. I hope the thought of charging for parking has come off the table.

And that idiot Karen Stintz thinks the 416ers should get to ride the system at a reduced cost? I don't think so.

C.J. Smith said...

^ Jealous of those serious math skills.

Michael Suddard said...

Hi April,

Actually, I'm pretty familiar with GO Transit. I'm formerly from Aurora and used to ride the GO Train periodically or used to hear it go by in the morning. I was in Aurora so long it used to be on the Barrie line, then the Bradford line and then the Barrie line again!

I moved to Richmond Hill where the Richmond Hill line used to go right by my house.

I enjoy reading CJ's blog for the memories and the laughs. I add things from the Ottawa area to help provide some context as to what other transit agencies are doing or are having issues with. I've commented before about the OC Transpo's double deckers and now I've added the car charging station. I do this to help contrast or provide evidence of what may happen with GO Transit.

My earlier comment was for the math on the use of the electrical stations CJ brought up in her posting. The Ottawa example, where I live, is for a charging station at Ottawa City Hall and has concrete numbers available in terms of usage in the downtown core.

I also note, in the final line of my comment:

"This may be part of why the price of fares are going up with GO Transit courtesy of Metrolinx."

Please note the word "part" in this sentence. The electrical charging station is only "part" of the reason fares are going up.

I appreciate your math as well but would point out there are 5 trains coming down the Barrie line in the morning according to the schedule. There has to be 5 different train sets as most of the line is still single tracked at least from just south of York University northwards to Barrie.

What does the additional 3 trains mean? More CHACHING by Metrolinx in your calculations.

Thank you for adding the math and how much, approximately, the fare increase will raise in revenue.

Like yourself, I try and help the discussion move forward by providing numbers that help to fill in some of the reasons for Metrolinx's GO Transit fare increase.

Anonymous said...

I haven't heard any mention of cost-cutting initiatives, so I guess Metrolinx will maintain the status quo like this: Also, Metrolinx needs to make up for PRESTO's fiscal hemorrhaging, like PRESTO cardholders riding for free on Route 12S Nov 30-Dec 1.

C.J. Smith said...

I was on the 90 route last Thursday and counted 24 passengers who got off well before Oshawa GO station. They all rode for free from as far as Newcastle. A white plastic bag covered the Presto card reader - highlighting its failure for all to see. Drives me bat-shit crazy, especially when I have to swallow another 5% fare increase in 2014 after swallowing 5% at the beginning of this year.

April said...

I don't know about anyone else, by I certainly didn't get a 5% increase in salary last year.

And what do we get for that extra $8.5 million in revenue, aside from car charging stations that are sitting empty? Nothing. They were supposed to extend the LSE route - not happening. We have no parking in Oshawa. There are no extra trains, so the people in Ajax and Pickering can't get seats (which seems fair since 4.8% brings Ajax people a 67 cent per day increase, and I will be paying 80 cents - right? No!). (CJ, where did you get 62 cents?)

With my daughter also taking GO daily for school, I am paying an extra $1.54 a day. What do I get for that?

Oh yeah . . . the quiet zone. Thanks Metrolinx.

C.J. Smith said...

31 cents extra a trip x 2 trips daily is how I mathed it.

Anonymous said...

It's only going to make fare evasion worse. Right now there is a twitter feed called #goaway where you can find out what train the GO cops are on. Not on your train? Why pay? Not saying to do that but the price increases have brought this about.

C.J. Smith said...

I don't think fare increases contribute to fare evasion or jumping. I think a lack of morals plays a role there. GO is becoming expensive, no doubt, but I still plan to pay my fare rather than waste my time trying to plan my trip in and out of Toronto based on a unreliable hashtag; taking trains at times that don't work for me to avoid paying. I value my time way too much for that nonsense.
Good luck to those who want to take it off. Once the train is moving and the GO officers are discovered, what's a person to do? Jump from the train?
All for $8.71 (potentially)?

TomW said...

Of course a charging station costs more than $2.50 - it's not like they will only ever used once by one person throughout their entire life! If you follow Michael Suddard's figures, the things will only be need to be used ~100 times to pay back their installation cost... and then it's profit all the way :-)

Fares go up every year because costs go up every year - mostly fuel and wages. Wages go up because that's what GO agreed to it its collective bargaining agreeement. (And before anyone starts moaning about how people at GO get paid more than you: if pay is all that matters, apply for one of those jobs. Seriously - there's always openings)

Metrolinx is planning a fare increase *and* extra subsidy from the province, so it's not like passengers are paying for everything. If GO doesn't increase fares, either service gets cut or there's even more provinical subsidy (or both).

Anonymous said...

Scarborough may have been promised a subway by Rob Ford and his chums but there's no way they can afford it. TTC receives $430 million a year in subsidies but still can't make ends meet without including the cost of running and maintaining extra subway lines (including the Spadina line extension). The chance of fares there stabilizing is non existent. Using this example, with all of Metrolinx' grand plans, the chance of it happening on GO either is also zero.

C.J. Smith said...

The charging stations could have waited. That money would have been better spent moving the LSE rail expansion along and bringing the train into Clarington as promised 10 years ago!!! Fares were increased to cover that project and here we are heading into 2014 with no trains to Bomanville. GO Transit bought the land to build the Courtice station and it sits empty. Prime farmland which could be growing local produce I might add. They haven't even thought to lease it so that someone could use it!

April said...

Apparently there was so glitch with purchasing the old Knob Hill Farms land in Oshawa at Simcoe and Olive. I understand the land owner tried to gouge Metrolinx on price and Metrolinx said no. So, plans to extend the train were put on hold.

TomW, I know cost go up every year. All my bills go up too. Why the hell do GO fares go up 4 times the rate of inflation?

Paying for parking better be off the table. I will start walking to work - I might need to leave today to make it for tomorrow.

TomW said...

CJ: Fare increase have *never* paid for servcie expansions. If anyone is trying to sell you that line, you are being mislead.

Personally, I want to see pay parking :-)

C.J. Smith said...

Fine, Tom I get it
Hopefully some money gets allocated to fixing Presto so I can get my $5 back. The almost $5 they will continue to rip off of me every year til I retire by charging 1 cent above the fare I am supposed to pay.
It's pissing me off now.
I'm done being nice about it. Fare increases suck when you're already paying more due to a system glitch that no one wants to fix but is garnishing $4.80 from God knows how many bus passengers connecting to Oshawa from Zone 95.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous at December 2 at 9:03am

I cant seem to find your twitter feed @goaway. Are you sure that's right.

Can you provide an exact link