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Going the other way on fares (2011)

Written in early 2011 when another fare increase was planned


As many of you probably know, TriMet is planning on raising fares again this year. In addition, OPAL is wanting transfers to be valid for a longer amount of time, a change TriMet notes would have a negative financial impact.

My proposal

Changes to the current fare chart:

New fare table (does not include LIFT):

Riding time Adult HC/Youth
1 hour $2.00 $1.00
3 hours $3.00 $1.50
All day $5.00 $2.50
7 days ... ...
30 days    
1 year    

Problems with the current system

The zone system is confusing and inequitable

This trip (which requires an all-zone fare)

is more expensive than this trip (which requires only a 2-zone fare)

That being said, the zone system is somewhat of a congestion charge (albeit a poor one), since it's only in effect for radial trips which people are more willing to take transit for, as well as a "toll" for using the MAX tunnel.

Bus transfers are complex and error-prone

Expiration times are unequal but can be generous

Fare and transfer comparison

System/policiesMain city servedBase adult fare Transfer cost/valid forreq'd forRTs okRT total cost
TriMetPortland, OR$2.05 2 hours; can be 1-3+boardingyes$2.05-$4.10
King County MetroSeattle, WA$2.25, $2.50 peak 1.5 or 2 hours?varies?yes?$2.25-$5?
SFMTA MuniSan Francisco, CA$2.00 1.5 hoursridingyes$4.00
LA MetroLos Angeles, CA$1.50 none offered  $3.00
C-TRANVancouver, WA$1.55 $0.85/1-2 hoursboardingyes?$2.40-$3.35
CherriotsSalem, OR$1.50none offered  $3.00
SMARTWilsonville, OR$1.25 outside citynone offered  $2.50
SMART+TriMetWilsonville/Tigard    $4.55-$6.60
RTDDenver, CO$2.25 1-2 hoursboardingno$4.50
UTASalt Lake City, UT$2.25 2 hours?varies?yes?$2.25?
DARTDallas, TX$1.75 1.5 hours, rail onlyridingrail only$3.50
Metro TransitMinneapolis, MN$1.75, $2.25 peak 2.5 hoursvariesyes$1.75-$2.25
CTAChicago, IL$2.25, *$2.00 bus *$0.25/2 hours, max 2boardingyes?$2.25
MARTAAtlanta, GA$2.00*3 hours, max 4boardingno$4.00
WMATAWashington, DC$1.50, rail varies*2 hoursboardingyes$1.50
SEPTAPhiladephia, PA$2.00, *$1.55$1.00 each, max 2/?boardingno$3.10
Port AuthorityPittsburgh, PA$2.25$1.00/3 hoursvaries?yes$3.25
NYCTANew York, NY$2.252 hours, max 1boardingno?$4.50?
Metro TransitSt. Louis, MO$2.00, $2.25 rail$0.50-$0.75/2 hoursvaries?yes$2.75
MTABaltimore, MD$1.60none offered  $3.10

* = requires fare card or token; ? = best guess; RT = return ride on same bus route;
RT cost w/return starting but not ending <2 hours later

Of the agencies reviewed, TriMet has the 2nd- to 3rd-lowest fare for a comparable round trip

Benefits of proposal

Fare changes

Ticket printers

Other ideas

By Jason McHuff,