Singapore: Transfer Penalty Eliminated, Complaints Predictable

IMG_0263 Singapore’s weekend Straits Times was full of debate about the recent fare system changes, which finally eliminated fare penalties for connecting from one service to another.

Eliminating these penalties is a crucial step in creating an integrated and versatile transit network, because (a) networks designed around connections are more legible and frequent than those that aren’t and (b) transferring is already enough of a hassle without these penalties.  The new system means that your fare from A to B will now be the same regardless of the path you take and the number of times you transfer.  This, in turn, will allow the transit agency to design a simpler and more reliable system. Continue Reading →

Dissent of the Week II: New York’s Select Bus Service

From Alon Levy on my post re: New York’s Bus Rapid Transit product, the Select Bus Service (SBS), which references this story in New York Magazine.

I’m going to say here what I said on the Urbanophile: it’s an uncritical fluff piece. The reality of SBS is that it’s a substandard product by European standards. The smoking gun is that during fare inspections on SBS, the bus has to stand still. The inspectors drive in and have to drive back, so the bus has to stay in one place until they get out.

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Los Angeles Times Columnist Slams Transfer Penalties

Los Angeles Times columnist David Lazarus tried using transit recently, and what drove him crazy was not the waiting, the crowding, the delays.  What drove him crazy were the fares:

For example, transfers. Switching from one transit provider to another is often a necessity in an area this vast. Some, such as Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus, make it relatively easy. Others do not. Continue Reading →

San Francisco: “The Fuse Has Been Lit”

Updated Jan 16

The next round of San Francisco service cuts have been announced, or as commenter Ted King puts it, “the fuse has been lit.”  For local coverage see the SF Chronicle and Streetsblog SF.

Here are some of the most interesting points from the budget summary (via Streetsblog, not the Chronicle):

Although the budget hole to be closed is $16.9m, the service cuts are only $4.8m.  That’s impressive.  They achieve so much non-service savings by a whole pile of cuts to other things, designed to have wide but manageable impacts.  Labor takes a ping: not just 0.7m in “concessions,” but also charges for parking at the workplace.  (Since a huge share of the drivers report to work around 4:30 in the morning, many don’t have good transit options.) Continue Reading →

Do We Really Want Fares to be “Fair”?

For blog item on fares Fares are a tough issue for transit agencies and the politicians they answer to.  Environmentalists and people concerned with social inclusion want fares to be low, or even eliminated entirely.  The financial bottom line of most agencies requires a certain level of fare revenue.  Many agencies worry about their “farebox return” (sometimes opaquely called the “operating ratio”), that is, the percentage of operating cost paid for by fares.  If it’s over 100%, you have a profitable business, but in the developed world it’s usually much less, which is why we have government subsidies.

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