As announced earlier this summer, the TCAT Board of Directors voted to eliminate the two-zone fare system that had been in effect since January 2012.
Effective Sun., Aug. 25, fares will cap at $1.50 for a single adult ride and at 75 cents rides for seniors, youth 17 and under, and persons with disabilities for all riders who will continue to enjoy the existing “the more-you-buy, the more-you-save” volume discounts. Gone will be the Zone 2 $2.50 single adult fare and $1.25 half fare.
For TCAT riders already in possession of Zone 2 fare media, TCAT will calculate the remaining value in rides or days (for day, month, or annual passes) and convert this value into rides or days in the new zone-less system. This value will automatically be applied to existing Zone 2 Tcards and fobs as a separate pass in the pass queue right a currently active pass. As with all passes, added rides or days do not show up on the fare box until rides or days are depleted on an existing pass.
Those benefiting will be riders boarding inbound Zone 2, which encompasses outlying villages, towns and rural areas. TCAT General Manager Scot Vanderpool and board members said they were motivated to eliminate the costlier Zone 2 fare because it poses an added burden to low-income riders, more and more of whom have been forced to live in rural areas due to the high cost of city housing.
Though it will impact very few riders, it’s important to note that under the new structure, the outbound Zone 2 fare will actually increase from zero to $1.50. (In 2015, TCAT eliminated the Zone 2 outbound fare to ease the burden for the few who were paying $5 fares while traveling very short distances within the zone.)
Simplification another motive for changing fare structure:
The two-zone system was sometimes difficult to figure out especially for newcomers who aren’t familiar with local geography. Additionally, non-Cornell Zone 2 riders had to purchase and carry two cards: one for Zone 2 rides and one for return trips originating in Zone 1. This has been a cumbersome system that represented a potential barrier for new riders.
As lower fares are expected to increase ridership, the new structure dovetails nicely with many local and well-publicized comprehensive plan deadlines to reduce carbon emissions.