Comment 14163

By Tecumseh (registered) | Posted November 17, 2007 at 17:54:01

I agree with Brendan. I don't drive a car (by choice) and take the bus or walk everywhere. I'm outspoken about my reasons (environmental and otherwise), but whenever I try to convince people to use transit more often instead of driving I never hear cost as a reason that they won't. It is almost always poor service.

People won't wait an hour for a bus even if it's free. Try getting to Dundas from anywhere in Hamilton at mid-day or the late evening (i.e. not rush hour). Try getting even to the east mountain from downtown on a Sunday night! You'll wait up to an hour. If people could count on having routes that would take them where they needed to go, without too long of a wait, and without worrying that they'll miss their connecting bus and have to wait an extra half hour (and miss their appointment or be late for work), they'd use transit. But as it stands, this is not the case, and the stress and hassle is not worth any price.

While I understand that for people already using transit an increased price might make them look elsewhere for transportation (perhaps convincing them that it's time to buy a car), I don't believe that the converse is true: namely that a reduced price will suddenly convince significant numbers of car-drivers to start using transit - it's much easier to convince someone to _stop_ using the bus than to _start_! Improved service is a prerequisite to increased ridership.

That being said, however, one must ask, do improved service and reduced (or at least stable) fares have to be mutually exclusive? More routes and more frequent service would require upfront capital costs and increased operating costs, but perhaps after a time the increased revenues from increased ridership would make it worth it. It would only take an act of faith and commitment on the part of the city. After all, the city demonstrated considerable faith in a highway by sinking hundreds of millions into Red Hill, with no guarantee of increased tax revenue! Couldn't it demonstrate a similar faith in transit (and it's citizens' desire for cleaner air, etc) by similarly investing in transit? It's a bit of a chicken and egg problem - no improved service until there's more revenue, but no more riders until there's improved service! - so at some point the city must take the plunge and invest. This, for me (and no doubt for most RTH readers), would be the preferred way of going about things.

However, in the absence of outright large-scale investment as an option being seriously considered by council at the moment, and given that the city has indeed been treating service improvements and keeping fares steady as mutually exclusive options, I as a transit user would support increased fares if it meant a proportional improvement in service, for the reasons I've stated above, in addition to Brendan's well-articulated reasons.

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