It's budget season at City Hall and we need your help to let the community and councillors know that you support increased funding for transit.
By Hamilton 4 Transit
Published February 05, 2016
Hamilton 4 Transit has recently teamed up with Environment Hamilton to get our heads together for ways to mobilize residents to improve transit in Hamilton. We had an urgent meeting this week to examine HSR's budget presentation they made Monday and update to the Ten-Year Transit Strategy they presented to Council.
This is where you come in. It's budget season at City Hall and we need your help to let the community and councillors know that you support increased funding for transit.
Look at this list and let us know which way you can chip in:
Come to listen and be visible at Council budget delegation this Tuesday, February 9, anytime between 3:00 PM and 7:00 PM at City Hall Council Chambers. (We also want to support parents to attend by helping to organize on-site communal child-minding, so let us know if you'll need childcare). Show up, wear yellow, clap for pro-transit speakers, we'll bring snacks to keep you fuelled.
Snail mail, call or email Councillors in the next few days or weeks (can be after February 9, but by end of the month) to tell them you support increased funding for transit and what your experience of HSR is right now. Council contact info is here.
Email a letter to editor to Hamilton Spectator or community newspapers, or call into CHML radio about transit. For example, when the media will cover February 9 budget delegation day, transit supporters can write to add their voice to the public debate. If you need a few pointers for how to get a letter to the editor published, let us know.
Register to be a delegate to give a short speech or presentation (5 min maximum) to Council on Tuesday, February 9 (you don't have to attend for the whole 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM block at City Hall, you can come for early or late part of meeting if you wish). You can register here, and please also let us know so we can get a sense of who is presenting what for transit
Let us know if you want to on our contact list to get invitations for semi-regular meetings of transit supporters that we hope to organize every two months or so. (We don't want to bombard this main Hamilton 4 Transit list with meeting notices - we'll keep the main list for major updates, so if you want to be more involved, please let us know)
You may also attend or make a delegation at a General Issues Committee meeting about potential changes to DARTS and Accessible Transit Services. The date of that meeting is not announced yet, let us know you're interested and we'll keep you posed.
Show your support for transit for Hamilton with your neighbours, email lists or social media networks.
We hope to hear from you about which option is best for you to show your support for transit.
A group of us met this week with Environment Hamilton to analyze HSR's presentation to Council. We've reviewed the budget request and the updated Ten-Year Transit Strategy in the context of LRT now being confirmed, the Rapid Ready report having been unanimously endorsed by Council in 2013, and the growing consensus in cities all over North America that transit growth is key to quality of life, economic development and financial health of cities, and environmental responsibility.
We've developed the following consensus about our support for HSR's budget request to Council:
1) We support HSR's request for a second maintenance and storage facility ("bus barn"). As growth of Hamilton's transit system is severely limited by the location and limited size of the Mountain Transit Centre in Mount Hope.
The $5 million needed for preliminary costing, design, land acquistion, and preparing funding applications to other levels of government needs to invested now so that the bus barn can be ready when it will be desperately needed in 5 years.
2) We support HSR request for 11 more buses to be funded by the city in this year's budget. The fare increase this year was very steep. Many riders on fixed incomes have no way to pay for this increase, so their quality of life is reduced as they are taking fewer rides.
The bargain from the city last year was: 'we'll raise fares, but we'll fix deficiencies in the system and you'll get better service'. The city needs to keep up the bargain and improve service with more buses, or we will lose more ridership.
The city needs to budget to continuously buy more buses to do more than just keep up with population but also to increase service, so that more people have the option to use HSR and choose HSR because it is convenient.
3) We support HSR intention to reorganize routes to better integrate with LRT, and this needs to happen before LRT is in place.
4) We see an urgent need for Council to ask staff to report back on area rating of property taxes for transit with a focus on understanding how it limits expansion of transit in suburbs, how provincial legislation changes impact area rating, and what an urban/rural split instead of former municipality split as it currently works would improve fairness for low income tax payers.
We hope you can support these demands as well - please contact us if you need more info to understand these issues.
That's it for now! Keep on bussing!
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