There is going to be a lot of conversation in the coming weeks and months about fares. Should we re-structure them, how much should we raise them, how do we make them easier to collect, how much more should we be investing in enforcement, and how does it affect particular communities or particular stakeholders. It is an important topic - after all, about 1/4 of our operating budget comes from fares. When I talk to operators, no topic gets more attention. For example, we are getting pretty positive feedback on the transfer printer being showcased during this week's sign-up.
Most operators also tell me - get rid of the zones! One of my objectives, embedded in our five year plan - is making sure whatever we do in the short-term lines up with the trajectory we want to be on in the long term. More specifically, I think we need to modernize our fare system, and move to the next generation of electronic fares - that will take a few years - but one thing we've heard from other transit agencies who have already implemented electronic fares: "...the first thing you need to do is simplify your fare policy and structure as much as possible." Electrons don't make a complex fare system simple all by themselves.
Between now and February 8th, I will be working to put together the budget plan based on the work of the budget task force, the nearly 5,000 survey responses we got, stakeholders, and what I've heard over time from our operators and other staff. A fare proposal will be part of that - and then the whole community of transit riders will have a chance to engage on the topic. Much more to come.