With only two (weekend) days left until people start buying passes for 2010, the STM finally announced its fare schedule for the new year, 17 days after what we would normally consider a deadline.
There are modest increases – the price of a regular monthly pass goes up 2.2% to $70 – but the price of a cash fare remains frozen at $2.75 ($1.75 reduced fare), and the price of one-day and three-day tourist passes is actually going down significantly.
The transit agency is also sweetening the deal with some incentives.
First, the table:
||$70 ($68.50+ 2.2%)
||$38.75 ($37 + 4.7%
||$20.50 ($20 + 2.5%)
||$11.50 ($11.25 + 2.2%)
|Three-day tourist pass
||$14 ($17 – 17.6%)
|One-day tourist pass
||$7 ($9 – 22.2%)
|10 trips (Opus card only)
||$21 ($2.10/trip, $20 + 5%)
||$12 ($1.20/trip, $10.75 + 11.6%)
||$13.25 ($2.21/trip, $12.75 + 3.9%)
||$7.50 ($1.25/trip, $6.75 + 11.1%)
||$2.75 (no change)
||$1.75 (no change)
Like the AMT and STL, the STM is putting forward an annual Opus subscription that would save the hassle of waiting in line on the first of every month. However, unlike the STL and AMT system, the STM does not offer a 12th month free under this system. It has practical advantages, but no financial ones. (Also, ironically, because the STM was so late with this announcement, it’s too late to sign up for this for January.)
For those eligible for reduced fare, a similar system over four months does offer a financial advantage. In effect, those who pay the $148 in advance will be spared the fare increase and pay only $37 a month. Assuming they have $148 of unexpected mad money to spend, which all people on reduced fares obviously do.
For those who care, the STM is allowing people with Air Miles to use them to buy passes. It’s 610 for a regular-fare monthly pass, 330 for a reduced-fare pass. This works out to 20 miles a day, or 10 miles in each direction on a regular fare, which actually sounds pretty accurate when you think about it. The STM suggests this as a “great present” – presumably with a straight face. This will be available from Dec. 23, so you can use it for your January pass.
Cheaper to be a tourist
It’s kind of buried in the press release that the STM “with adjust the prices” of tourist passes, but they’re actually going down by a considerable amount (18% and 20%). This changes the dynamics of when to get these passes.
A one-day pass is worth 2.5 cash fares, or 3.3 trips when you buy them 10 at a time. Which means if you’re planning 3-4 trips in a day, it makes much more sense to get a one-day pass. Similarly, the three-day pass is $14, which is 5.1 cash fares or 6.7 Opus trips, working out to 1.7 and 2.2 trips per day respectively. So if you’re having a friend over from out of town, and planning to use public transit, the three-day pass makes much more sense now.
It also puts more distance between the three-day pass and the seven-day weekly pass at $20.50. Of course the weekly pass still has a set week (Monday to Sunday) even though it’s only available on Opus and changing that would seem easy enough to do. The three-day pass is over any three consecutive days.
And the politics
There’s a bunch of stuff about partnerships and service levels in the press release that even I glazed over. Feel free to read it if you like that stuff.
It should be noted that this fare increase was not approved at a public meeting of the STM board. I’m not sure what secret gathering occurred to come up with this, but it wasn’t done democratically.
And the opposition wasted no time speaking up issuing populist press releases. Richard Bergeron says the modest increases are still too much and he’s calling (after the fact) for a freeze in transit fares for 2010.
Vision’s Elsie Lefebvre just whines, saying hikes are “unacceptable” but implying they’d be okay with it if it was just the rate of inflation. This is particularly hypocritical considering Brenda Paris, who’s now with Vision Montreal, was on the STM’s board for all those years, and I didn’t hear a peep of complaint out of her when they approved all those fare increases.