Toronto as inspiration for Bay Area – MTC Fare Integration Workshop explores seamless fares

Last Friday, the Bay Area’s transit system held a promising workshop on the topic of fare integration, at the Ferry Building in downtown San Francisco.

The attendees included a mix of board members and staff from transit agencies and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission; and a few experts and advocates, including SPUR and Seamless Bay Area.  

The keynote presentation, from Martin Powell of Toronto, was about the process that Metrolinx had gone through in assessing the need for fare integration with a business case.  Toronto’s business showed that fare integration was expected to have a very high benefit/cost ratio in the range of 5.8 to 12:1, allaying concerns that fare integration might not be worth the cost, and bolstered Toronto’s decision to move toward integrated fares.


At the workshop, participants were clustered around tables and went through a series of exercises discussing a vision for transit in the Bay Area, and how fares related to the vision.  The recommendations from the discussion showed a high level of consensus for a more customer-focused, integrated, and equitable fare system. Next steps supported by the attendees included:

  • a multi-stakeholder process to explore fare integration
  • focus groups to solicit transit rider (and nonrider) perspectives
  • a business case to assess options, costs and benefits for fare integration.

According to the introduction from MTC, the workshop was partly motivated by the strong feedback of numerous transit riders whose top priorities for the Clipper project included fare integration.  The workshop was also an outcome of board direction from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in May to explore more integrated fares as potential follow-on stages to a means-based fare pilot.  Commissioners gave direction to explore greater fare integration, more agencies, dedicated funding and deeper discounts.