TransLink's existing three-zone system for fares is up in the air as it begins a review of options for reform.

Transit fare review opens door to big changes

TransLink seeks advice on how to charge for trips as it launches major review of fares in Metro Vancouver

Should transit riders pay less if service is infrequent in their area? Should fares be tied to ability to pay? Or should a transit trip cost the same amount no matter who pays or where they go?

Those are some of the questions TransLink is asking the public as it begins a major two-year review to reimagine the transit fare system.

It’s the first such review in more than 30 years since the original three-zone fare system was first adopted, and it throws open the potential at least for radical changes.

“No decisions have been made,” said Tim Savoie, TransLink vice-president of transportation planning and policy. “We recognize that any potential changes will directly affect our customers and that’s why we’re asking for input at the very start of this process and throughout each phase.”

Anyone can fill out the survey for the first phase of consultations at www.translink.ca/farereview until June 30. Also planned are stakeholder forums, polls and other events.

The questionnaire sheds some light on the types of reforms TransLink may consider.

It asks if fares should be lower at less busy times – effectively creating time-of-day pricing that could encourage some riders to shift to off-peak times to save money.

Other questions include:

– Whether cheaper fares should be created for very short trips where riders are now reluctant to pay the minimum $2.75.

– Whether reduced rates should be offered to families travelling together.

– Whether three-day or maybe week passes should be also be offered, rather than just day or month passes.

Also up for debate is how far fares should go to cover the system’s costs.

Transit fares generate nearly $500 million a year and any fare structure reform would have to deliver a similar amount if the system is to maintain its current 53 per cent cost-recovery ratio with existing service levels.

The survey asks if “fares should be set to cover a higher share of transit costs.”

Alternatively, it asks if fares should be priced to be competitive with driving, or priced based on the cost of building and operating a service – a high-cost new rapid transit line might then come with higher fares.

Cash fares for a SkyTrain trip are currently $2.75 to ride one zone, $4 for trips across two zones and $5.50 to ride three zones, such as from Surrey to Vancouver.

TransLink has already eliminated multi-zone fares for bus routes that cross zone boundaries — that change was in response to a decision last fall to abandon the Compass card tap-out requirement on buses.

The existing three-zone system is unfair, particularly to riders who have to take short SkyTrain trips across a zone boundary, forcing them to pay for two zones.

The Compass card’s arrival provides real-time data for TransLink and opens up more scope to consider new fare options.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A pair of crashes on Highway 1 between Abbotsford and Chilliwack have snarled traffic in both directions.
Pair of crashes snarl traffic between Abbotsford and Chilliwack

Traffic delays eastbound, large westbound backup

Final numbers won't be known for weeks, but turnout was down across the board in the Fraser Valley and B.C.
Chart: Tyler Olsen
Election turnout down across Fraser Valley and B.C.

Even after thousands of mail-in ballots counted, turnout is likely to fall below 50% in many ridings

NEWS FILE PHOTO
Voters in Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Mission and Langley may head back to polls in 2021

Election of local politicians in BC vote would trigger by-elections in several Fraser Valley cities

Simon Gibson watching the vote count at the Best Western Hotel in Mission. With 98 polls reporting, Gibson leads NDP challenger Alexis by 188 votes. / Kevin Mills photo.
Abbotsford-Mission riding too close to call, mail-in ballots will decide

98 polls reporting: BC Liberal incumbent Simon Gibson leads NDP challenger Pam Alexis by 188 votes

Chelsa Meadus, BC Liberal party candidate for the riding of Maple Ridge-Mission, watches the election results come in with her son Preston, 13, at the Maple Ridge Seniors Activity Centre Saturday evening. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)
NDP’s Bob D’Eith front-runner for Maple Ridge-Mission

D’Eith looking forward to getting back to work as riding’s MLA

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

This Crescent Beach home, located at 12505 22 Ave., was subject of a police search warrant June 18. (Google image)
Civil forfeiture office alleges $2M Surrey home was used to launder cannabis money

Court documents request the home, and $85,000 to be turned over to the government

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Mounties looking for teen boy ‘unlawfully at large’ from Riverview psychiatric hospital

Nolan Godron left the hospital, located at 2721 Lougheed Highway in Coquitlam, without consent on Saturday

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Most Read