Annex 3 Choice of Fare Structure

Zonal Fares

Zonal fare systems are a hybrid with features of both flat fare and fare-stage systems. They are common in many cities worldwide with fares related to the number of zones crossed on a journey. The main advantage of zonal fares is that, whilst fares are broadly related to distance travelled, the range of fares is small and can be easily understood. The more zones crossed the higher the fare.

The zones are typically concentric rings around the central business district that acts as the attractor for the majority of commuter trips. However, some larger cities have travel nodes in the suburbs and subdivide the outer zone radially, to recover the cost of the resulting longer trips. A coarsely graduated fares system results, with the stages large geographic areas. In the pilot corridor, which is largely segregated from the rest of the network, with only a few interchange points, the latter approach is clearly preferable. Because zonal fares differ depending on the number of zones crossed, tickets are for one, two or three zones etc. Short trips across a zonal boundary may be penalized, unless a special short distance fare is available.

Zonal fares require care in siting the zonal boundaries. It is difficult to change boundaries once established. Where a boundary is at, or close to an important traffic generator (major market, hospital or college), there may be a marketing advantage in providing a zonal overlap for the generator, so that trips to it from both zones are at the single-zone fare.

The attraction of zonal fares is that they enable some fare discrimination between long and short distance travel, yet are not as complex as stage fares. However, there can be a high price penalty for route interchange, unless the main interchanges are at zone boundaries with overlapping zones. Changing to zonal fares requires high quality support and publicity to familiarise all users with the system. This should include a simple map or schematic illustrating the zones and what the fares between zones. Zone number should be indicated on each bus stop.

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