yesterday, transport action BC (a group I am member of) got contacted by a TV network, on this topic, so here below, is what has been provided, as a discussion base on the topic:
I could entertain a Hong Kong type model:
- distance based on the rail network.
- fixed route based price n the bus system (with time variation on/off peak, but not distance based variation)
A compromise between and “ideal” economic model and a pricing model, simple enough to be understandable by people is required
an Octopus reader on a KMB bus in Hong Kong: price is simple and easy to understand, (no surprise price) – credit photo wikipedia
you want to know how much you gonna pay when you board the bus…not finding it out afterward!
that is also true for trains, but the train system can be made pretty clear, at the station’s Ticket Vending Machine.
distance pricing on bus open a Pandora box: what distance we are talking about?
… bus are able to pound many extra miles on a trip looking very short on the map:
As for this bus route 405 in Richmond, it is very common for bus route to do many detours, loop,… before bringing you to your destination: should you pay for all that extra mileage you didn’t ask for?
Just Imagine what you could think if a cab driver (charging by the distance) was using the bus 405 route for a trip from Ikea to a temple on Number 5 road in Richmond…
Vancouver region is full of those circuitous routes…
Distance doesn’t reflect the cost to provide a bus transit service
The cost to provide a bus service is mainly based on the time spent on the road, not the driven distance, by the bus :
It is commonly admitted than bus driver wages and benefits account for ~70% of the operating cost of a bus, and wages are paid based on a time, not a distance, base.
- bus 5 (Robson) average speed is barely better than 10km/h
- bus 555 (PortMann express) zip along Hwy 1 at 100km/h
It is almost as expensive for Translink to provide a bus seat between Granville and Denman (1.6km), than it is to provide a bus seat between Carvolth exchange in Langley and Braid station in New Westminster (20km). Why the later one should cost more?
The real problem to address
The real problem is to encourage people to use bus off peak, or alternative route to the more congested one:
- encourage people to bus 84 rather than bus 99.
- encourage people to use the bus 96B rather the bus 320, on 104th avenue when they don’t need to travel east of Guilford
this to make an overall better usage of the transit system …That is: it is more a yield management model than a distance based fare model which is needed.
 I plan to write further on the bus 96B and 320 interaction: recently published letters in the Surrey leader, (“Transit woes continue in North Surrey” and “Transit changes make no sense“, in their Sept 30th, 2013 edition) high-light a real network design problem
 The bus operating cost/hr is defacto the metric used by Translink to assess the operating cost of its bus routes, as illustrated in its bus performance service review