Transportation

Key Study Conclusions of HSR Operational Review

By Ryan McGreal
Published October 30, 2009

In August 2008, the City of Hamilton commissioned IBI Consulting to undertake an operational review of the HSR's conventional transit operations. The purpose was:

  • To provide the City with a plan to improve and develop public transit services in Hamilton over the next five years, consistent with the City's vision of sustainable development and the Hamilton Transportation Master Plan; and

  • To ensure public transit services are being operated in a safe, efficient and effective manner, considering the needs of customers, employees and the general public

IBI just presented the results of the operational review to the Committee of the Whole on Transit Day, Thursday, October 29, 2009. As of this writing, the report hasn't yet been posted to the city's website, but here's a snapshot of the key study conclusions from the report.

  • HSR's transit services are performing well compared to Peer Group given financial and other constraints:

    • Cost recovery is stable and predictable (farebox ratio has averaged 55% since 2000)
    • Ridership and revenue has increased through 2008, consistent with population growth and rate of service expansion. Declined slightly in 2009 as a result of economic conditions.
    • Transit average fare is low ($1.37 in 2007) and affects ability to invest in and expand transit services.
  • Expectation that transit will take on a greater role in the future:

    • New Official Plan focuses on transit nodes and corridors
    • Provincial policies emphasize transit
    • Rapid transit could be a key economic driver, but will require a supportive transit network
  • Transit ridership is tied to investment levels, population growth, quality of service delivery, affordability and transit supported policies (e.g. downtown parking fees)

    • There are no magic bullets to grow transit ridership without incurring increased costs or sacrificing minimum service standards
  • Opportunities exist to increase service levels, pursue niche markets and reduce revenue leakage through lower rate of discounted fares

  • Paradigm shift needed in City thinking and decision making to make transit a priority - recognition that transit and other City department goals are interdependent

HSR is at a Cross-roads: All policies and plans call for continued growth, but continued financial constraints are a barrier.

RTH will publish a more in-depth report on the operational review in the coming days.

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.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted November 09, 2009 at 16:07:43

>> Cost recovery is stable and predictable (farebox ratio has averaged 55% since 2000)

HSR losses are stable (taxpayer subsidies to bail out the failed HSR have averaged 45% since 2000)

>> Rapid transit could be a key economic driver, but will require a supportive transit network

Any new small business could be a key economic driver, but because we only get paid to promote public transit, we won't talk about that.

>> Paradigm shift needed in City thinking and decision making to make transit a priority

Otherwise, we won't be able to keep billing the taxpayers for these "unbiased", wink-wink, consultant reports.

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