I said something on my Patreon page about fare integration between buses and trains, in the context of an article I wrote for the DC Policy Center about improving bus service, and got pushback of the most annoying kind, that is, the kind that requires me to revise my assumptions and think more carefully about the subject. The controversy is over whether fare integration is the correct policy. I still think it is, but there’s a serious drawback, which the positive features have to counterbalance.
First, some background: fare integration means that all modes of public transit charge the same fare within the same zone, or between the same pair of stations. Moreover, it means transfers are free, even between modes. Fare integration between city buses and urban rail seems nearly universal; big exceptions include Washington (the original case study) and London, and to a lesser extent Chicago. Fare integration between urban rail and regional rail is ubiquitous in Europe – London doesn’t quite have it, but it’s actually closer than fare integration between buses and the Underground – but does not exist in North America. In Singapore there is fare integration. In Tokyo, there are about twelve different rail operators, with discounted-but-not-free transfers between two (Tokyo Metro and Toei) and full-fare transfers between any other pair.
The reason North American commuter rail has no fare integration with other forms of transit is pure tradition: railroaders think of themselves as special, standing apart from mere urban transit. We can dispense with the idea that it is a seriously thought-out fare system. However, lack of integration between buses and trains in general does have some thought behind it. In London, the stated reason is that the Underground is at capacity, so its fares are jacked up to avoid overcrowding, while the buses remain cheap. In Washington, it’s that Metro is a better product than the buses, so it should cost more, in the same way first-class seats cost more than second-class seats on trains. Cap’n Transit made a similar point about this in the context of express buses.
There are really three different questions about fare integration: demand, supply, and network effects. The first one, as noted by Patreon supporters, favors disintegrated fares. The other two favor fare integration, for different reasons.
Demand just means charging more for a product that has higher demand. This is about revenue maximization, assuming fixed service provision: people will pay more for the higher speed of rapid transit, so it’s better to charge each mode of transportation the maximum it can bear before people stop taking trips altogether, or choose to drive instead. It’s related to yield management, which maximizes revenue by using a fare bucket system, using time of booking as a form of price discrimination; SNCF uses it on the TGV, and in its writeups for American high-speed rail from 2009, it said it boosted revenue by 4%. In either case, you extract from each passenger the maximum they can pay by making features like “don’t get stuck in traffic” cost extra.
Supply means giving riders incentives to ride the mode of transportation that’s cheaper to provide. In other words, here we don’t assume fixed (or relatively fixed) service provision, but variable service provision and relatively fixed ridership. Trains nearly universally have lower marginal operating costs than buses per passenger-km; in Washington the buses cost 40% more per vehicle-km, and perhaps 2.5 times as much per unit of capacity (Washington Metro cars are long). Using the fare system to incentivize passengers to take the train rather than the bus allows the transit agency to shift resources away from expensive buses, or perhaps to redeploy these resources to serve more areas. If anything, the bus should cost more. There are shades of this line in incentives some transit agencies give for passengers to switch from older fare media to smart cards: the smart card is more convenient and thus in higher demand, but it also involves lower transaction costs, and thus the agency incentivizes its use by charging less.
The network effect means avoiding segmenting the market in any way, to let passengers use all available options. The fastest way to get between two points may be a bus in some cases and a train in others, or a combined trip. This fastest way is often also the most direct, which both minimizes provision cost to the agency and maximizes passenger utility. This point argues in favor of free transfers especially, more so than fare integration. Tokyo fares are integrated in the sense that the different railroads charge approximately the same for the same distance; but transfers are not free, and monthly passes are station to station, with no flexibility for passengers who live between two parallel (usually competing) lines.
The dominant reason to offer integrated fares is network effects, more so than supply. Evidently, I am not aware of transit agencies that charge more for buses than for trains, only in the other direction. That fare integration allows transit agencies to reduce operating costs mitigates the loss of revenue coming from ending price discrimination; it is not the primary reason to integrate fares.
The issue at hand is partly frequency, and partly granularity. A typical transit corridor, supporting a reasonably frequent bus or a medium-size subway station, doesn’t really have the travel demand for multiple competing lines, even if it’s a parallel bus and a rail line. Fare disintegration ends up reducing the frequency on each option, sometimes beyond the point where it starts hurting ridership.
In Washington it’s especially bad, because of reverse-branching. The street network makes it hard for the same bus to serve multiple downtown destinations (or offer transfers to other buses for downtown service). Normally, riders would be able to just take a bus to the subway station and get to their destination, but Washington plans buses and trains separately, so two of the trunk routes, running on 14th an 16th Streets, reverse-branch. The hit to frequency (16-18 minutes per destination off-peak) is so great that even without fare integration it’s worthwhile to prune the branches. But such situations are not unique to Washington, and can occur anywhere.
The required ingredients are a city center that is large enough, or oriented around a long axis, with a street network that isn’t a strict grid and isn’t oriented around the axis of city center. New York is such a city: if it didn’t have fare integration, buses would need to reverse-branch from the north to serve the East Side and West Side, and from anywhere to serve Midtown and Lower Manhattan.
The granularity issue is that there isn’t actually a large menu of options for riders with different abilities to pay. This is especially a problem in American suburbs, with nothing between commuter rail (expensive, infrequent off- and reverse-peak, assumes car ownership) and the bus (in the suburbs, a last-ditch option for people below the poverty line). I wrote about this for Streetsblog in the context of Long Island; there’s also a supply angle – different classes of riders travel in opposite directions, so it’s more efficient to put them on one vehicle going back and forth – but this is fundamentally a problem of excessive market segmentation.
This also explains how Tokyo manages without fare integration between different rail operators. Its commuter rail lines are not the typical transit corridor. With more than a million riders per day (not weekday) on many lines, there is enough demand for very high frequency even with disintegrated fares. A passenger between two competing lines can only get a monthly pass on one, but it’s fine because the one line is frequent and the trains run on time.
The rest of the world is not Tokyo. Branches in Outer London and the Paris suburbs aren’t terribly frequent, and only hit one of the city centers, necessitating free transfers to distribute passengers throughout the city. They also need to collect all possible traffic, without breaking demand between different modes. If RER fares were higher than Metro fares, some areas would need to have a Metro line (or bus line) paralleling the RER, just to collect low-income riders, and the frequency on either line would be weaker.
The demand issue is still real. Fare integration is a service, and it costs money, in terms of lost revenue. But it’s a service with real value for passengers, independently of the fact that it also reduces operating costs. The 99.5% of the world that does not live in Tokyo needs this for flexible, frequent transit choices.
I’ve reposted my comment on your Patreon below:
“Point five is more broadly about whether transit systems (and other companies) should use cost-based pricing or pricing derived from supply-and-demand curves. In short, cost-based pricing is viewed by the public as more “fair”, while demand-based pricing brings in more per-unit revenue. https://www.nickkolenda.com/psychological-pricing-strategies/#pricing-t31
“In a minimal marginal cost per trip market that local transit is in, it’s possible that if WMATA shifted to cost-based pricing, the resultant drop in revenue would force them to cut service while trains run overloaded and the buses (which presumably can’t be cut entirely) run emptier.”
Just a detail: In Washington, MARC commuter rail fares are effectively integrated with local transit. Holders of weekly and monthly passes (the great majority of weekday riders) can ride without further payment on WMATA amd Baltimore-area MTA trains and buses and Montgomery and Frederick County bus systems.
Can you ride between New Carrollton and Union Station for the same fare as on Metro?
Technically, Denver also has regional rail fare-integrated with local transit, at least if you count the A/B/G lines as regional rail. (They use mainline heavy rail, but operate on schedules that look more like American light rail systems, and they’re electrified…)
Also, the other thing that I think kind of makes fare integration hard in DC is the distance-based fares on rail. Distance-based fares would be tricky to implement on buses, and if you didn’t implement them there, I’m not sure how you’d deal with that? The other two systems with distance-based (rather than zoned) urban rail fares, PATCO and BART, also don’t do fare integration with buses, I don’t think?
Singapore manages to implement distance-based fares on buses, with EZ-Link. In fact it’s had distance-based bus fares even before fare integration with the MRT, and even before EZ-Link. Tel Aviv, too, has distance-based fares on buses serving the suburbs.
How does that work? Do you tap out on buses?
Yes. Or at the bus stop after you get off.
> Evidently, I am not aware of transit agencies that charge more for buses than for trains, only in the other direction.
This is a nitpick more than anything else, but New York’s MTA charges more for an express bus than the subway, but less than the commuter rail (which isn’t even considered in the same fare structure), since express buses tend to provide one seat rides in bus+subway areas and also can be faster than using the normal network, but are also more expensive to provide.
“Fare integration between urban rail and regional rail is ubiquitous in Europe – London doesn’t quite have it, but it’s actually closer than fare integration between buses and the Underground – but does not exist in North America. ”
True for most places. Untrue for Vancouver, BC, Canada. The same fare system applies to buses, SkyTrain and SeaBus. Only the West Coast Express fare by distance commuter rail (M- F only, peak direction only) is outside this system – but then service goes beyond the regional district boundary. Actually a total cock-up by Cubic over bus installation of the Compass card has spoiled what was what Janette Sadik-Khan called “the golden ticket”. Compass works on equally on all systems (except WCE) – cash and transfers now penalise casual users who transfer from bus to SkyTrain or ferry. If only a Cubic ticket issuing machine on a bus could produce a Cubic readable transfer at a station – and be reliable for “tap out” for zonal fares – we would still have Fare Integration that Greater Toronto can only dream of.
West Coast Express is what I meant by fare-disintegrated regional rail.
It’s not even about the Compass disaster. The paper tickets had fare integration outside WCE; Zurich is still using paper tickets and has complete fare integration. I’d like to push back against the identification between integration of fare media (which exists in Tokyo, London, and the Bay Area) and integration of fares themselves (which none of these three cities has).
Completely agree with the need to differentiate between fare integration and fare media. These do not have anything to do with each other. Most smart card systems are simply paying cards, relieving the operation from dealing with cash, but not much more.
Contradicting a bit to the above statement, but places with complete fare integration do not have smart cards or magnetic stripe tickets, but do it simply with paper (as in Switzerland and Germany (where the fare integration may be over a big geographical area, as in the Bayernticket, or the Baden-Württemberg ticket).
The Netherlands has nationwide fare integration with a smart card. So does Singapore, with a smart card and distance-based rather than zonal fares. The Singaporean system is more complex in the sense that you can’t just memorize the fares in one area (and also there are no season passes), but I don’t think a zonal system could even work for it well: it’s one municipality, without obvious internal borders like rivers or undeveloped areas that could be used as zone boundaries. With no season passes, simplicity isn’t really required: the fare is maybe S$1.37 at a time, so if you’re off by ten cents you’re not going to starve to death as a result.
At least some of Ländertickets started out as rail only and only gradually crept into the other transit modes. And they are still transit tickets dispensed by transit ticket vending machines or transit staff. There are a lot of other things that are valid as tickets: conference passes, concert/event tickets, tourist cards, student IDs and what have you.
The West Coast Express is somewhat confounding though, since, while it has a separate fare structure, WCE fares count as bus/skytrain/seabus fares, and a bus/skytrain/seabus fare counts *towards* a WCE fare. If I take the Skytrain from Vancouver to Port Moody ($4.30), and then board the WCE eastbound and get off at Port Coquitlam, tapping off will only charge me another $0.50, rather than a whole WCE fare since a bus/skytrain/seabus fare counts *towards* the WCE bill.
This makes a certain amount of sense in a world where the WCE simply costs more to operate than does the skytrain or non-accommodation-service buses, at more than $6 per boarding on average
though perhaps worth noting that the transition to electronic fare cards did *kill* the partial fare integration with Fraser Valley transit, who no longer honour WCE fares for connecting service from Mission due to their inability to read the fare cards
I didn’t really address the London reason for fare disintegration – capacity. But the Patreon debate centered around Washington, where the London reason doesn’t really apply. Metro trains are very crowded at rush hour, but the biggest crowding occurs on lines that aren’t really competing with buses. The worst is the Orange Line, which serves wealthy suburbs and crosses the Potomac. Fare integration would have the biggest impact on ridership in lower-income areas, especially Anacostia, served by the under-capacity Green Line.
An (IMHO) very important component for fare integration has not been mentioned here: In essentially all the European places with successful fare integration, the authority over and responsibility for service levels and fares are not on operator’s level. They are one level up, with a “transit authority” (such as the ZVV in the Canton of Zürich); the German term would be Tarifverbund (if it is limited to fares) or Verkehrsverbund (if it goes beyond). Historically things start with a Tarifverbund of some kind, which then grows into a Verkehrsverbund.
Actually, some kind of Tarifverbund is a necessity for integrated fares. In such a system, the revenue by the operator is sent to the Tarifverbund, which then pays the operators according to their contracts, based on service levels and actual use. It has been shown that it is sufficient to count passengers sporadically to get a fair distribution ratio (although I remember on some bus lines which were not doing too well, the drivers told their known customers “next week we count the passengers, come and ride more often”. Passenger counting was done either manually by the driver, or on higher density lines, by using vehicles which are equipped with passenger counting devices (over the doors). Just this provides sufficient statistical information.
The base principle of fare integration is indeed a zone fare, which instead of giving the passenger the “right to travel with this operator or vehicle from place A to place B” gives the passenger the “right to use the system in a given area during a given time”. In some ways, one can compare integrated fares with a flatrate plan, whereas distance-dependent would be a “pay-as-you-go” plan.
A very important advantage of fare integration with zone fares is the simplicity of the system. The above mentioned right has two parameters (zone and time), which are well-definied, and easy to validate (this is (well, maybe is) the reason why the really successful Verkehrsverbünde are using paper tickets instead of smart cards. For a ticket check, space and allowed time can easily be read from a paper ticket, whereas from a smart card or mangetic stripe ticket, it requires a leading device. An individual ticket check is easily 5 to 10 times faster with an appropriately laid out paper ticket. So, more checks can be done by time unit with the same number of staff.
As stated in the article, zone fares make most use of the network effect, which is IMHO a key feature in a successful transit system.
Service quality surcharges are still possible with a zone fare system. Again from the ZVV, there is a “night surcharge” which has to be paid to use the night network, between 1:00 and 5:00 (or so), because the night operation is not part of the regular ordered service, and has therefore to pay its own cost. Despite the fact that the night surcharge may be at the full or half level of a single ticket, the night network in Zürich was so successful that they had to switch bus-serviced corridors to train service, with connecting buses. OTOH, again in Zürich, the “lake surcharge” imposed by the politics (“sparen, koste was es wolle”) on the Zürich Lake boats, is turning into a big flop, as the loss of passengers could not be compensated by the surcharge, getting the revenue of the operator drop even more. …so much for surcharge of “better” service levels.
About level of integration in big cities mentioned in the original post:
London has a smart card (Oyster card), which is essentially a pay-as-you-go card, but does smart calculations, and has some retrospect fare optimization, such as capping the deducted amount of money to the level of a day-pass when the amount for single ride fares for a given day gets over the price of a day pass.
Paris is interesting, as there are two distinct fare integrations (within the city): Metro and RER are one circle, and Bus and Tram are another.
Tokyo (and the other Japanese metropol areas) have a simple paying card; there may be some memorized trip history with the potential to optimzation, however, but I think the card is too dumb for doing such things.
In Paris nearly everyone has a monthly pass, especially in the suburbs, since it costs €73 flat regionwide whereas pay-as-you-go costs a couple euros per trip if you’re outside the inner 2 zones.
The city’s planning to implement a London-style fare cap, but monthly rather than daily, which would be the first time the Navigo can be used for pay-as-you-go.
Tokyo lets you store value on your card but also have a station-to-station monthly pass, so you pay as you go if you go anywhere else. It doesn’t have a fare cap, but it doesn’t need to, because for a fixed pair of stations the monthly-to-single-ride fare ratio is maybe 30, so you always get the season pass.
The Paris “Ile de France” pass is an enormously good deal, indeed. My personal experience with the different integrations was based on a short time business stay with a client in the suburbes, but I was taking the train out there only once; then I used their shuttle bus service, whose stop could be reached by bus or Métro.
It almost hardly counts as integration, and obviously they do lots of things wrong, but MBTA Commuter Rail monthly passes also count as passes for any trip on the T (subways + buses).
The problem is that MBTA Commuter Rail staff, for whatever reason, do not use the electronic card readers so all MBTA Commuter Rail monthly passes must be printed out on paper (I think they did invent some kind of electronic version in the past few years but as a result it does not have any integration with the T). So they function as paper passes on both Commuter Rail and T.
This is not much solace to someone who buys a single ticket on Commuter Rail though and does not get that benefit of fare integration.
The next generation of ‘Charliecard’ is supposed to fix all of these problems circa the 2020s, allowing full fare integration in theory, albeit that’s what they promised last time around too…
In my local city the staff use regular smartphones, I presume with NFC sensors, to check people’s cards. It should be possible to roll out such a system quickly – anywhere but the US…
“Roll out quickly”… The Swiss Transport System members had some serious starting options when the SwissPass got introduced. The SwissPass is a base card with NFC functionality, replacing the “base card” for the Half Price Pass or Global Pass (Halbtaxabonnement or Generalabonnement). At least during the first half year, the passengers always got a paper receipt, which they could show when the reader (a smartphone) could not understand the info of the card.
But, yes, NFC based systems can be deployed and become operational relatively quickly.
Validation is one thing, but having humans handle fare deduction would mean entrenching conductors onboard trains permanently in the US. This is why non-PoP regional rail systems have validators or faregates at every station to minimize staffing. SEPTA wants the worst of both worlds by gating downtown stations and deploying validators yet giving every conductor a validator smartphone at the same time.
Matt: I’ve heard the same thing from Metrolink in L.A./Southern California. Their reason for not using smart card is because the handheld card readers add noise to their radio communication system. Personally I don’t believe it because Caltrain (San Francisco Bay Area) uses smart card for fare payment, and Caltrain conductors uses handheld card readers no problem.
When they talk about fare integration in the NYC area it generally means “let’s charge subway fares for the portions of LIRR & MN within the city (and add/reopen some more stations too)”. This might be reasonable if there were ample rolling stock, track and terminal capacity and/or if there were separate trains running the close-in local service. But in fact, none of these conditions are true, at least in peak periods, and attempting to apply this fare plan to the existing train runs would be potentially chaotic with trains entering the city already full with little or no room for city riders and/or outbound trains overcrowded at the onset and undercrowded leaving the city zone – and rapidly converting suburban rail commuters into automobile commuters.
Fare integration between Amtrak and MN or NJT might be less of a self defeating proposition, but the same problem occurs – the suburban commuters competing for space versus the long haul passengers; Amtrak seems to have already voted for the long haul passengers. In the prior scenario, the suburban commuters come across as the elitist snobs, but in this one, they are the hoi polloi.
It would be possible to extend the subway system further out, into Westchester and Nassau counties, or just further out in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, or even into parts of New Jersey, but this only rarely gets seriously mentioned. Once again, lack of capacity in the core could be a problem, but some of the possibilities (like extending the #1 line – I don’t believe it is maxed out, capacitywise, and it ends only a short distance from downtown Yonkers) seem too potentially fruitful to ignore.
Politically, there may be some issues extending the subway to the suburbs, but the traditional NYC single fare (even if it is partly a myth) could be the biggest fly in the fare integration ointment. Amtrak and the commuter RRs all have distance-based fare structures (although Amtrak’s (Empire service at least) has some “eccentricities”. Short of giving everyone in the area unlimited travel at the NYC subway rate, a unified fare structure would have to break with that “tradition” or else have some anomalous fares for short trips across the city-zone boundary to/from whatever mileage system might be in operation on the outskirts. Personally, I found that making the transition from this flat rate pay to board system into a mileage based swipe-in swipe-out system to be easy enough to handle, but to some it is apparently end of the world / sky is falling.
1. The LIRR is not at track capacity. It can run a couple more trains into Penn Station.
2. The LIRR is not at train capacity either. It’s at seated capacity, maybe. The Hub Bound Report (PDF-p. 41) says the average number of passengers per car entering Manhattan between 8 and 9 am on the LIRR is 87 as of 2015; the cars have 100 seats. And there’s standing room in the vestibules, too. Metro-North cars entering Grand Central average 83 passengers per car. The busier lettered subway lines average 130 passengers per car, of two thirds the length of an LIRR car.
3. Extending the subway is expensive, unless you can do it above-ground, and even that might cost too much. This is why cities in the developed world don’t typically do it – they use legacy railroads when available. Not to mention, the not at capacity 1 train averages 83 passengers per car, the same as Metro-North except the cars have half the floor area (and the 1 empties into the 2 and 3 at 96th Street – and the 2 and 3 average 121 passengers per car). Even with the Hub Bound Report’s lowballing of the floor area on commuter rail – it thinks it’s the same as on the lettered subway trains – its floor space per passenger numbers on the LIRR and Metro-North are higher than on any subway line entering Manhattan except the R from Brooklyn.
4. New York used to charge extra in the Rockaways – exit fare outbound, twice the entrance fare inbound. I think Boston used to do the same in Quincy and Braintree, but don’t quote me on that. It’s not difficult to have an outer fare zone on an otherwise-flat system, especially when the outer stations have little ridership by subway standards. You don’t even need to transition to a fully distance-based system (which in theory is better but in practice requires too many subway station retrofits for exit gates to be worth it).
Seems like DC’s peak-hour pricing can be asked the same questions: what’s best pricing for demand, supply, and network? Making the high-demand option more expensive and assume (hope?) it doesn’t reduce total ridership much is a parallel strategy to pricing rail higher than buses. In contrast, peak hour service is *more* not less costly to WMATA. So both supply/demand seem to support temporal fare dis-integration.
I’ll let you think about network effects!
Some Swiss and German cities have off-peak discounts, in the form of a discounted season pass valid only after 9 am (sometimes 10 am). These include Berlin and Zurich, and probably others. Because there are clear rules for when the peak is, it’s easy to know when your discounted monthly is valid and when it isn’t. And as you say, the effect on supply is positive, unlike with fare disintegration.
The Zürich solution is called “9 Uhr-Pass”, and is valid from 9:00 until end of operation on weekdays, and all day on weekends and holidays. It is available as day pass (single ticket or 6-pack), monthly pass and annual pass, whereas the monthly and annual pass can be personal or non-personal (meaning, that whoever bears the pass has the valid ticket).
Off-peak discounts are extremely common in Germany, not only the 9/10 am monthly and daily passes in Berlin, Zürich and a lot of other cities. Many cities offer special tickets for tourists and retirees, which are unlikely to use transit during the morning rush even without the 9/10 am restriction.
San Francisco is sort of an oddity, in that within the city, single trips on BART (which otherwise has distance based fares), cost the same as single trips on Muni. But a one month pass that just covers Muni is cheaper than one that also covers BART.
At least that’s how it was when I lived in the Bay Area.
You made a really good point on lack of fare integration in Tokyo. Besides the fact that majority of the rail/transit operators in Tokyo (or entire country of Japan) being for-profit private operators, what you said in this post looks like one of the best explanation.
I think there are other factors in lack of region-wide fare integration in Japan (not only in Tokyo region) besides nation-wide interchangeable use of smart cards without penalizing low-income population, including:
1. Station interval on each passenger rail lines are very short (at least one every 1 to 2 kilometers)
on lines operated by non-JR operators. The interval goes down to average of 0.8 to 1.5 kilometers in area in/near Tokyo CBD between Yamanote Line and Musashino Line (http://osm.org/go/7Q5wmoJ-?layers=T). This increases ridership potential and actual passenger volume on each rail line/system by covering the distance/demand typically covered by bus/streetcars/light rail.
2. Almost all rail operators in large metropolitan regions (ones larger than Shizuoka or Niigata metro areas) offer service as mix of different stopping patterns (local, semi-express, express, rapid-express, and limited express, etc.). This makes each rail system/corridor multi-purpose system; by covering both short-distance demands (bus/subway/light rail distance) and longer distance demands (commuter rail/intercity rail distance), ridership potential and actual passenger volume on each system/corridor increases.
3. Service offered with multiple stopping patterns allows passengers to travel longer distance reasonably fast without using limited express trains, requiring limited express surcharges and/or seat reservation (also extra cost) in most cases. For example, ones traveling between Shinjuku and Odawara (about 80 kilometers) on Odakyu Line don’t necessarily have to take the Romancecar, which requires surcharge (Rapid Express trains connect between these 2 stations fast enough by skipping lots of stations on the way). The same is true between Nagoya and Osaka CBD via Kintetsu Lines (though it is an extreme case – 150+ km distance); unless ones are really in hurry, passengers can use Express and Rapid Express trains to travel between these two cities without being on the trains stopping at every single station or using limited express trains like Urban Liner, which cost more because of limited express surcharge.
4. Through running between commuter rail lines and subways works as partial fare integration though passenger need to pay commuter rail fare to the boundary station and then subway fare from the boundary station. Once passenger enter to the subway territory, fare to the final destination is computed based on distance traveled within the subway system. This allows passengers to travel to different locations within the “CBD” without getting charged a lot by the operator(s) regardless of point of origin or availability of one-seat “through-running” trains. (Example: almost all major destinations inside of the Yamanote Line are reachable by Tokyo Metro Subway from all major stations on Yamanote Line as long as ones are willing to make one transfer within Tokyo Metro territory.)
Beijing does not have fare integration between the bus and the subway, although you can use the same smart card (一卡通). It has distance based fares for both the bus and subway, and when transferring from bus to subway you pay your fare again.