In a press release today, Councillor Sam Merulla (Ward 4) called on the federal and provincial governments to "show leadership" and invest in a pilot program to implement free transit on Hamilton buses.
"By creating a fare-free transit system, the City of Hamilton could demonstrate strong leadership by creating a transit system that would result in greater social, environmental, and financial benefits," said Merulla in the press release.
City staff reported to the public works committee that free transit would cost $30.9 million a year, or an additional $161 in property tax for a $250,000 home. This assumes ridership would increase 20 percent if fares were abolished.
Another option staff considered was free transit on smog days. This would cost $50,000 per weekday.
Merulla believes that with oil prices continuing to rise, the question of free transit is not a matter of if but of when.
Free transit would be a departure for Hamilton, which increased fares twice in the past year.
During the summer, Hamilton offers free transit from Jackson Square to the Waterfront on the historical replica Waterfront Trolley.
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