Has anyone come across the new HSR fare boxes? They look really good and it's always nice to see investment in the system. However, when I first came across one a few weeks ago, I quickly realized that something was missing - and its absence speaks volumes.
I use a monthly pass. With the old fare boxes there's a swipe strip that I can run my pass through. Even though on every second bus the driver had put his or her timetable in the swipe strip, I was happy that at least some of my trips were counting toward ridership in Hamilton.
Ridership really matters. Gas tax contributions from the federal and provincial governments are tied to increases in ridership and population.
When you invest in transit and boost ridership you get more help from the other levels of government. So it's essential that the HSR track every single trip. By missing pass trips (like all those McMaster University students and me when I encounter a misplaced timetable) this ultimately hurts the HSR.
When I heard about the new fare boxes I thought this lacklustre ridership tracking might be resolved. I was shocked to discover that the new fare boxes don't track pass trips at all, just cash and tickets.
The HSR tells pass users (almost as an afterthought) to "flash their pass" to the driver.
Again, monthly passholders, who should be the prized riders of the HSR, get the shaft. Bad enough that it's a better deal to travel by ticket; but does the HSR have to ignore thousands of trips a month which could be used to increase funding?
I only hope the new Presto card, whenever it arrives, will encourage and reward monthly passholders like in other cities.
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