Transportation

Merulla to Feds, Province: Fund Free Transit

By Ryan McGreal
Published July 09, 2008

In a press release today, Councillor Sam Merulla (Ward 4) called on the federal and provincial governments to "show leadership" and invest in a pilot program to implement free transit on Hamilton buses.

"By creating a fare-free transit system, the City of Hamilton could demonstrate strong leadership by creating a transit system that would result in greater social, environmental, and financial benefits," said Merulla in the press release.

City staff reported to the public works committee that free transit would cost $30.9 million a year, or an additional $161 in property tax for a $250,000 home. This assumes ridership would increase 20 percent if fares were abolished.

Another option staff considered was free transit on smog days. This would cost $50,000 per weekday.

Merulla believes that with oil prices continuing to rise, the question of free transit is not a matter of if but of when.

Free transit would be a departure for Hamilton, which increased fares twice in the past year.

During the summer, Hamilton offers free transit from Jackson Square to the Waterfront on the historical replica Waterfront Trolley.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

2 Comments

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By adam1 (anonymous) | Posted July 09, 2008 at 18:53:53

We have to focus Hamilton's transit plan. Merulla's idea is just complicating matters. Isn't he interested in putting money towards rapid transit? The money is going to have to come from somewhere and the Province won't fund all of it. Even the most poverty stricken people in Hamilton seem to be fine with spending $2.25 per coffee every day at Tim Horton's. Its not going to attract any business to Hamilton, and will certainly not allow us to move forward with the rapid transit plan. Does anyone else think this idea is counter to the rapid transit plan?

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Dwayne Brown (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2008 at 09:49:10

Sam Merulla is interested in one thing - self-promotion. This is just another one of his ill-thought ideas that make use of a high profile subject to get his name in the paper. Give him a mike or a camera and he's there being goofy. If he truly wanted to promote economic prosperity, increase public transit ridership and help the environment he would be pushing like Hell to get not only a LRT system for Hamilton, but a far more integrated cycling path system as well(which costs far less). One kind of gets sick of hearing the man talk of how he stands up for the poor, elderly and disadvantaged citizens of the city. And yet he's willing to add more taxes to everyone's bill. The unfortunate situation in this city is that there is a lack of common sense in city council. And they keep missing the bus so to speak. A light rapid transit system will eventually come (we could have had it in the 80's - free of charge!). We will have to pay for it - with help form the province - so making public transit free now just compounds the inevitable money problems of the future. But politicians, especially Merulla, can only think as far ahead as the next election. Perhaps what we need to do, aside from changing the transit fare system, is change the majority of councillors charged with making those decisions.

Dwayne Brown

Permalink | Context

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to comment.

Events Calendar

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools

Feeds