Fare system developments: NCTD, BMO Financial, Pace and CTA

Feb. 16, 2023
Northern San Diego County, Calif., Coaster customers, Canadian transit riders and Chicago region transit users will be able to take advantage of new discounts, new fare options and fee waivers.

A series of developments within the fare system sector of the transit industry will see commuter rail customers in Northern San Diego County, Calif., able to take advantage of new ticket discounts, Canadian riders will see fees waived with certain debit card purchases and Chicago area commuters will have a new regional fare pass available next week for use on city and suburban systems.

NCTD: Discounted fares, but with flexibility

Starting in California, North County Transit District (NCTD) is targeting the needs of a hybrid workforce, as well as leisure riders by providing a new discounted fare for Coaster trains. NCTD is piloting the COASTER 5-Pack and COASTER 10-Pack to provide customers with five or 10 individual days of unlimited Coaster and regional transit system use within a limited time from the initial purchase.

The COASTER 10-Pack offers a 50 percent discount, based on the COASTER Regional Day Pass. It provides unlimited use of COASTER on any 10 individual days within 60 days of the initial purchase. Transfers to Sprinter, Breeze, Flex, Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) Bus, Trolley, MTS Rapid and MTS Rapid Express are included. After 60 days, the pass, along with unused days, expires.

The COASTER 5-Pack offers a 40 percent discount and expires after 30 days but includes all the regional transfer options of the 10-pack option.

Chicago: Regional travel made more affordable

In the Chicago region, intergovernmental agreements recently approved by Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and Pace Suburban Bus will bring greater regional connectivity and more affordable regional mobility to area transit riders. Starting Feb. 20, all newly purchased passes, including 1-Day and 3-Day unlimited-ride passes, will be accepted on CTA and Pace Suburban Bus.

These new pass integrations are intended to make regional transit trips easier by offering seamless interconnectivity between the CTA and Pace, and in some cases, even making travel more affordable than before.

"Now more than ever, it’s vital we seek out new opportunities to eliminate the hurdles of taking public transit and allow Chicagoans and visitors alike to travel seamlessly throughout the region,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “Public transit is the equity equalizer, and with these changes, we are opening more doors and allowing anyone to get to farthest corners of our region for one low-price.”

“These changes improve access and provide customers with better fare payment options, flexibility and lower fares. Pace is excited to continue our commitment with the other transit boards to offer fare products that ensure regional connectivity and affordability for our riders,” said Pace Executive Director Melinda Metzger.

Canada: BMO commits to fee-free transit fare transactions

BMO Financial Corp. is waiving debit transaction fees for charges incurred at transit authorities across Canada. BMO explains that retail and commercial customers with transaction count limits on their account can now use their debit card at any transit authority terminal in Canada, without the payment counting toward their monthly transaction count limit.

Transit systems in Canada’s largest municipalities including Toronto, Metro Vancouver, Laval and Ottawa have rolled out or are piloting contactless debit or credit card use for fare payment. BMO notes as these transit authorities advance their payment systems to make it easier for riders to tap with their debit cards on subways and busses, this new feature helps BMO customers avoid reaching their transaction count limit and incurring fees.

"We welcome BMO's decision to make transit use easier and more convenient by making all debit transactions free of charge" said William Keliehor, CCO at Interac Corp. "Millions of Canadians use Interac® Debit for day-to-day purchases direct from their bank account, and we are committed to expanding convenient debit payments at transit authorities across the country."

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.