For the past two years, the TCAT service area has been divided into two zones: Zone 1 (Greater Ithaca) and Zone 2 (rural Tompkins County). Under the current policy, price is based solely on boarding location, not how far the passenger is traveling. Fare for a single ride that originates in Zone 1 is $1.50, even if that passenger is traveling several miles into Zone 2. On the other hand, fare for any single ride that originates in Zone 2 is $2.50 no matter the distance within that zone.
Under the new policy, outbound passengers boarding in Zone 2 need not present their TCAT fare media (Tcard, fob or sticker passes) nor pay cash fare, but simply board the bus. The only exception to the new fare policy is Route 53, a looped route spanning both zones, which will continue to require a fare.
“Although most rural commuter route schedules are geared toward commuting in and out of Ithaca – and most passengers on those routes are doing just that – a $5 round‑trip fare for those few passengers traveling short distances within Zone 2 isn’t fair, so we made the change,” said TCAT Service Development Manager Doug Swarts.
No other fares will change. Single fare for passengers boarding in Zone 1 is $1.50 fare no matter the passenger’s destination. Single fare for passengers boarding in Zone 2 inbound is $2.50; outbound passengers traveling to the end of the line in Zone 2 with the intent of traveling back inbound (toward Ithaca) will be expected to pay the $2.50 fare.
Given that it impacts few passengers, the new policy will have minimal impact on TCAT’s budget. TCAT implemented the two zone fare system in 2012 to help contend with financial shortfalls. Fares were increased in Zone 2 because it is more costly for buses to travel outside the Greater Ithaca area.