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Editorial: TTC should introduce system-wide surface transfer

I must admit I’m a fan of the TTC transfer. Its design dates back to before the 1940s, and has remained basically the same ever since. You can see examples of some really old transfers here.

My appreciation of the TTC transfer is bourne primarily out of nostalgia. When I was young, I made it a goal to collect a transfer from every route on the TTC network. The transfers, individual to each route, were a free souvenir of each trip I’ve taken. The retro look also appealed; even the quality of the paper. Mississauga Transit’s transfers didn’t have the personality. Grand River Transit’s transfers don’t even have route information on them.

However my heart may feel, however, my head tells me that it’s past time to revise the TTC transfer. The retro design is easy to forge, and the TTC opens up a number of opportunities if it chooses to change.

Grand River Transit ditched its route-oriented transfers for a system-wide transfer a few years ago. This turned the transfer into a 90-minute system pass, allowing riders to hop off and hop back on enroute. There is no doubt that the system significantly improved its usefulness to its passengers when it did this.

If the TTC were to introduce a system-wide transfer — essentially a two-hour system pass — it would increase ridership. People who would have taken the car otherwise would get on the TTC because of the opportunity to get off and get back on while enroute.

I also wonder if the TTC would end up saving printing costs by getting rid of its route-specific transfers and adopting a system-wide model. The printing would be less complex; the volumes of the individual print runs would be greater. And by making the transfers wildly different day by day would cut down on transfer fraud.

Grand River Transit doesn’t even put the day’s date on its transfer; instead, it puts on big letter. The GRT decides, basically at random, what day it’s going to be each day — an ‘A’ day, ‘B’ day, or ‘X’ day — and all buses on the system are supplied with that transfer for that day. So if you’re hoarding tranfers to try and board the system without paying a fare, you only have a 1 in 26 chance of bringing on board the correct transfer for the day — even less chance if the system decided to vary its background colours as well as its letters. (Red ‘A’ day versus Blue ‘X’ day, etc).

A system-wide surface transfer would simplify the TTC’s transfer production, give its passengers more travel options, and effectively stop transfer fraud. I would miss the TTC’s old-style transfers, but I would appreciate the improvements that could be made to the TTC as a result.

Especially if the TTC used its subway font to give its system-wide transfers a distinctive TTC look.

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