Comment 17350

By brodiec (registered) | Posted January 20, 2008 at 23:03:16

I think there is a lack of facts to back up the claims that McMaster students are a boon to the public transit system. And the arguments for this subsidy (it is a per-user subsidy) and segregation of fares are a bit weak. I will rebut all your arguments including the environmental and economic in saying this: why, with a public system that is strapped for cash, is a special subsidy given? Anyone can claim that access to affordable transit is good for the environment, economic development and just generally convenient. Why does paying tuition at McMaster make you more special than any other student or public citizen?

Economically it is irrefutable that even if 100% of McMaster students were taking the bus every day that the HSR will make less money. It is in fact a dis-incentive for more McMaster students to take transit because the HSR begins making less and less money from the flat-rate tuition based system. If you read the documents relating to the fare increase the problem is rider-ship. Public transit in Ontario largely works out of the fare box. It's actually a stark contrast to the USA where the NYC Subway, for instance, is largely federally funded. It's some sort of strange bizzaro world here when it comes to public transit.

The McMaster tuition flat-rate is not in the interest of keeping the HSR running and improving service. It actually demands that less students take transit for the service to have the funds to operate and improve. It's economic idiocy! Hello DeGroote School of Business! Tell me how this makes sense, I'd love to know!

As a counter-example I'll use the TTC in Toronto, which for the record has a subway but also quality of service issues along it's ALRT corridors frequented by UofT students like the Queen and College cars. The TTC discounts bulk purchases of passes based on the demand of the institution. That means that the more Ryerson, UofT, OCAD or George Brown students that use transit the more the collective group saves. This gives an economic incentive for students to choose to use transit and be advocates of transit. Rather than the McMaster hand-out which is kinda indefensible economically because it has no data relating to actual rider-ship! All we know is that the routes servicing the university are crowded and the people using them are paying less per-rider than the people not attending that school. Therefore people paying out of the fare-box are subsidizing clearly required service improvements. This is barring provincial or federal grants which these days are largely for vehicles and infrastructure NOT operational costs. See the gas tax as an example. That's how they do business in Queens Park and Ottawa these days. And it makes sense.

As for my personal use of routes servicing McMaster? Well, I grew up in the west end and have used the HSR all through middle school and high school on the 5C. Ironically even without the discounted pass those busses were still packed. Showing that the HSR could increase full price rider ship and keep the fare standard for all Hamiltonians.

And I'd like to retract my spoilt brat comments, they were uncalled for. But I still think there is a strong argument here for fare standardization. The HSR is for Hamiltonians not McMaster students. Would the reactions of McMaster students be the same if only Catholic school board students received the same deal? Why is a standard fare for all HSR riders so unfair? Cast off your partisan double-think here for a moment Mac'ers and use those big brains!

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