Annex 3 Choice of Fare Structure

Flat Fares

The advantage of a flat fares system is that it is easy to understand, as everybody pays the same irrespective of distance travelled and transaction time tends to be shorter than with other systems. In some cities, the same fare applies on all routes, whilst in others there are different fares depending on route length. The latter approach can cause confusion on sections that are common to two or more routes, as the fare depends on the route of the bus.

The disadvantage of a flat fares system is that it is unfair to short distance riders and therefore it tends to discourage such riders. It can also be unfair to operators, who incur costs on long routes that cannot be recovered. Under these circumstances, unrealistic fares control can lead to operators breaking down routes into smaller sections, so that an additional fare can be charged; the resultant fragmentation of the network can be observed for example in many sub-Saharan cities. A further problem with a flat fares system is that it can result in a high price penalty for interchange, unless the ticketing system provides onward validity of travel for transfers. This problem increases with the size of the city, where networks become more complex, and disadvantages many travellers who cannot travel directly to their destination.

From a route planning perspective, a flat fares system provides no meaningful information on trip distances, unless conductors record ticket sales at selected points. In practice, intermediate point sales records are not usually undertaken and planning has to be undertaken through surveys.

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