Enquiry to the General Manager, Transit Services Department – December 8, 2021 Submitted at City Council
Would staff please detail how many fare inspectors and security officers are employed at OC Transpo. How does that number compare with Transit Services in cities of similar size to Ottawa? Please include Gatineau’s STO.
Is fare enforcement a priority in those other cities? Why? How is enforcement carried out? Please include data on recovery from fare inspectors.
Please explain Ottawa’s policy on fare inspection. What data – rationale was used to inform operators to not enforce or even tell riders they should pay their fare. Number of assaults please? Can we estimate how much lost fares cost OC Transpo?
Is there data that indicates fare inspections deter people from taking transit.
Response February 3, 2022
OC Transpo’s conventional bus fleet is comprised of three types of buses that have a different number and configurations of doors and fare collection points.
- 40-foot bus: one front door and one rear door.
- Double-decker bus: one front door and one rear door.
- 60-foot articulated bus: one front door, one middle door, one rear door.
Smartcard readers are installed at the front door of 40-foot buses and at all doors on double-decker and articulated buses.
Prepaid OC Transpo passholders represent 80 per cent of our ridership and 70 per cent of total revenue. Prepaid passes are charged monthly, not per trip. OC Transpo strongly encourages all customers to tap, as this information is used for data collection, ridership analysis and planning purposes. While all transit customers are asked to tap, tapping does not affect payment for customers with prepaid passes.
Operators open the front door for customers to board at all stops and can observe fare payment/smartcards tapped. At selected busy stops (which are specified in a standard operating procedure), operators on articulated and double-decker buses are instructed to open the middle (if applicable) and rear doors to allow customers with passes to board, which allows the buses to complete boarding more quickly.
With the installation of fare gates at all O-Train stations, customers must tap or scan a fare product to open the faregate. At major O-Train stations, such as Tunney’s Pasture or Blair Station, customers board buses from within a fare-paid zone, and all doors are opened on all buses to allow customers to board seamlessly.
Transit operators remind customers to tap or pay their fare when a customer enters a bus. However, fare enforcement interventions can create conflicts between bus operators and customers; fare enforcement is a significant cause of annual operator assaults, as identified in the statistics below:
All employees are entitled to work in a safe and respectful workplace. OC Transpo has a Violence Protection in the Workplace Program, based on the City’s Workplace Violence and Harassment Policy. This program focuses on an ‘inform not enforce’ method; an approach which is consistent with other Canadian transit authorities. After the operator has informed a customer that they must pay a fare, if enforcement is required, bus operators are asked to call the operations control centre for assistance. Enforcement will then be provided by a mobile supervisor, fare inspector, or a special constable, depending on the situation.
Staff do not have sufficient evidence and have not found any research to allow conclusions to be drawn as to whether fare inspection methods discourage people from using transit.
OC Transpo currently has four fare inspector positions. In addition, OC Transpo also has 47 Special Constables and four Superintendents who patrol the system 365 days a year, 24/7, but as per collective agreement provisions, do not conduct formal fare validation.
OC Transpo will be conducting a review of the Fare Enforcement and Special Constables Units to explore ways to better serve customers across the system and define each position’s role and responsibilities.
OC Transpo contacted several transit agencies regarding their policies on fare inspection. All Canadian public transit agencies have unique structures but Calgary Transit, Société de transport de l’Outaouais (STO) and Société de transport de Montréal (STM) are comparable transit agencies with similar fare inspection policies to OC Transpo. These agencies all use an education versus enforcement model for transit operators to reduce conflicts between operators and customers. Transit security is called to assist when interventions escalate or when support is required.
As part of the Auditor General’s 2019 Audit of City Estimates, OC Transpo Management agreed to, “determine how a system-wide fare evasion rate should be derived, taking into consideration the practices of other transit agencies”. Staff are currently undertaking this review and will provide further information through the audit response process.