The Bellingham Herald reports that the Whatcom Transit Authority (WTA) is one vote away from abolishing transfers:
On Oct. 6, WTA held a hearing on the proposed changes to the fare policy. Staff recommended eliminating transfers, which WTA has used since 2005, because they’re often abused as people use them for a free return-trip ride. Staff also estimates the agency would get a roughly $100,000-a-year revenue boost after eliminating them, and it would save about $10,000 in printing costs. Transfers also encourage payment of cash fares, which WTA wants to discourage in favor of bus passes.
There are also administrative savings to postpone (and shrink) WTA’s second round of service cuts from 2013 to 2014.
In a system as complex as King County’s, abolishing transfers altogether is probably not possible. In anything, there is too much emphasis on one-seat rides rather than a functioning, interconnecting network.
However, there is asymmetry in the way that ORCA transfers compare to paper ones. Paper transfers tend to be valid for longer than policy states, whereas ORCA enforces the actual transfer time limit. Moreover, Link’s location-based fares offer no round-trip discount.
I’m in general in favor of fare increases, since they mean more revenue for transit. But what about “abuse” for round trips? Is this a feature or a bug of the transfer policy?