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.
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