HSR looking to raise fares, cut service for 2010 to meet ‘big challenges’

News Sep 04, 2009 Ancaster News

Hamilton public transit officials are considering, yet again, a fare increase in 2010, while also cutting services to meet this year’s two per cent budget ceiling, says the director of transit.

Don Hull said that a “reasonable” fare increase will be presented to councillors, along with proposed service “rationalizations.” The ideas are contained in HSR’s operational review report expected to be presented to council in October.

“We have big challenges,” said Mr. Hull. “We are looking at a (fare increase) that would be reasonable. I don’t advocate for a fare increase. But we would want something that would be sensible and pragmatic.”

Part of the challenge for transit is finding enough money to expand the city’s specialized transit service, such as the Disabled and Aged Regional Transportation System (DARTS).

For the last few years proposals from the city’s transit officials to increase fares have generated overwhelming opposition from transit users and social service advocates who argue it hits vulnerable and senior residents the hardest. Last year transit staff proposed to increase the cash fare by 10 cents to help cover a $2.1 million deficit in the transit budget, but it was defeated by councillors in a close 8-7 vote, keeping the current $2.40 fare, and $1.85 a ticket. In 2008, councillors increased the bus fares twice within less than a year.

Mr. Hull, who told councillors earlier this year there could be a fare increase for 2010, points out Hamilton has one of the lowest cash fares in Ontario.

Some councillors, including Sam Merulla, have argued the city should provide free transit to boost transit use.

As part of its transportation master plan, transit officials are looking to increase its ridership from 47 riders per capita, one of the lowest in the province, to between 80 and 100 riders per capita.

Too early to identify

The possibility of another fare increase, plus service cuts, are measures transit officials are looking at to meet council’s imposed two per cent tax increase for departments. He said it was too early to identify where those service cuts would occur.

“We could reallocate resources in areas where they are underserviced,” he said.

Hamilton transit is introducing expanded transit service on Sept. 8 along Upper James to the Hamilton Airport and Mohawk College, and along Rymal Road from Eastgate Square across the city to the Go Station on Hunter Street.

He said transit staff has already identified possible non-service cuts that could be implemented to meet its 2010 budget goals.

“We are following council’s guidelines,” said Mr. Hull.

Concurrent with the operational review that is ongoing with its operations, transit staff will be presenting to councillors this month a report on what they believe Hamilton transit service should look like.

This “vision report” follows on the heels of the grass-roots transit organization, Transit Users Group (TUG), asking residents to participate in their on-line survey about Hamilton transit.

Mr. Hull applauded TUG’s initiative, saying they need TUG and the rest of Hamilton residents to support what the city’s transit officials are doing to improve the service.

“We see them as an advocate,” said Mr. Hull. “We need the public to help us to improve our system.”

HSR looking to raise fares, cut service for 2010 to meet ‘big challenges’

News Sep 04, 2009 Ancaster News

Hamilton public transit officials are considering, yet again, a fare increase in 2010, while also cutting services to meet this year’s two per cent budget ceiling, says the director of transit.

Don Hull said that a “reasonable” fare increase will be presented to councillors, along with proposed service “rationalizations.” The ideas are contained in HSR’s operational review report expected to be presented to council in October.

“We have big challenges,” said Mr. Hull. “We are looking at a (fare increase) that would be reasonable. I don’t advocate for a fare increase. But we would want something that would be sensible and pragmatic.”

Part of the challenge for transit is finding enough money to expand the city’s specialized transit service, such as the Disabled and Aged Regional Transportation System (DARTS).

For the last few years proposals from the city’s transit officials to increase fares have generated overwhelming opposition from transit users and social service advocates who argue it hits vulnerable and senior residents the hardest. Last year transit staff proposed to increase the cash fare by 10 cents to help cover a $2.1 million deficit in the transit budget, but it was defeated by councillors in a close 8-7 vote, keeping the current $2.40 fare, and $1.85 a ticket. In 2008, councillors increased the bus fares twice within less than a year.

Mr. Hull, who told councillors earlier this year there could be a fare increase for 2010, points out Hamilton has one of the lowest cash fares in Ontario.

Some councillors, including Sam Merulla, have argued the city should provide free transit to boost transit use.

As part of its transportation master plan, transit officials are looking to increase its ridership from 47 riders per capita, one of the lowest in the province, to between 80 and 100 riders per capita.

Too early to identify

The possibility of another fare increase, plus service cuts, are measures transit officials are looking at to meet council’s imposed two per cent tax increase for departments. He said it was too early to identify where those service cuts would occur.

“We could reallocate resources in areas where they are underserviced,” he said.

Hamilton transit is introducing expanded transit service on Sept. 8 along Upper James to the Hamilton Airport and Mohawk College, and along Rymal Road from Eastgate Square across the city to the Go Station on Hunter Street.

He said transit staff has already identified possible non-service cuts that could be implemented to meet its 2010 budget goals.

“We are following council’s guidelines,” said Mr. Hull.

Concurrent with the operational review that is ongoing with its operations, transit staff will be presenting to councillors this month a report on what they believe Hamilton transit service should look like.

This “vision report” follows on the heels of the grass-roots transit organization, Transit Users Group (TUG), asking residents to participate in their on-line survey about Hamilton transit.

Mr. Hull applauded TUG’s initiative, saying they need TUG and the rest of Hamilton residents to support what the city’s transit officials are doing to improve the service.

“We see them as an advocate,” said Mr. Hull. “We need the public to help us to improve our system.”

HSR looking to raise fares, cut service for 2010 to meet ‘big challenges’

News Sep 04, 2009 Ancaster News

Hamilton public transit officials are considering, yet again, a fare increase in 2010, while also cutting services to meet this year’s two per cent budget ceiling, says the director of transit.

Don Hull said that a “reasonable” fare increase will be presented to councillors, along with proposed service “rationalizations.” The ideas are contained in HSR’s operational review report expected to be presented to council in October.

“We have big challenges,” said Mr. Hull. “We are looking at a (fare increase) that would be reasonable. I don’t advocate for a fare increase. But we would want something that would be sensible and pragmatic.”

Part of the challenge for transit is finding enough money to expand the city’s specialized transit service, such as the Disabled and Aged Regional Transportation System (DARTS).

For the last few years proposals from the city’s transit officials to increase fares have generated overwhelming opposition from transit users and social service advocates who argue it hits vulnerable and senior residents the hardest. Last year transit staff proposed to increase the cash fare by 10 cents to help cover a $2.1 million deficit in the transit budget, but it was defeated by councillors in a close 8-7 vote, keeping the current $2.40 fare, and $1.85 a ticket. In 2008, councillors increased the bus fares twice within less than a year.

Mr. Hull, who told councillors earlier this year there could be a fare increase for 2010, points out Hamilton has one of the lowest cash fares in Ontario.

Some councillors, including Sam Merulla, have argued the city should provide free transit to boost transit use.

As part of its transportation master plan, transit officials are looking to increase its ridership from 47 riders per capita, one of the lowest in the province, to between 80 and 100 riders per capita.

Too early to identify

The possibility of another fare increase, plus service cuts, are measures transit officials are looking at to meet council’s imposed two per cent tax increase for departments. He said it was too early to identify where those service cuts would occur.

“We could reallocate resources in areas where they are underserviced,” he said.

Hamilton transit is introducing expanded transit service on Sept. 8 along Upper James to the Hamilton Airport and Mohawk College, and along Rymal Road from Eastgate Square across the city to the Go Station on Hunter Street.

He said transit staff has already identified possible non-service cuts that could be implemented to meet its 2010 budget goals.

“We are following council’s guidelines,” said Mr. Hull.

Concurrent with the operational review that is ongoing with its operations, transit staff will be presenting to councillors this month a report on what they believe Hamilton transit service should look like.

This “vision report” follows on the heels of the grass-roots transit organization, Transit Users Group (TUG), asking residents to participate in their on-line survey about Hamilton transit.

Mr. Hull applauded TUG’s initiative, saying they need TUG and the rest of Hamilton residents to support what the city’s transit officials are doing to improve the service.

“We see them as an advocate,” said Mr. Hull. “We need the public to help us to improve our system.”