Comment 6193

By mark (registered) | Posted April 02, 2007 at 16:42:19

Currently the HSR is treated as a service strictly for students, seniors, and the working poor. This propogates the prevailing perception that transit is for those who cannot afford to drive, or are unable to drive. In other words, that the bus is for those who have no other option.

For transit in Hamilton to thrive, it needs to destroy this generally accepted perception. The HSR must become an attractive alternative to driving for everyone living in Hamilton. In order to do this, the HSR obviously needs to expand service coverage, increase frequency, and extend hours of service. But improvements are not just about level of service. It's also the quality of the service experience. Buses need a comfortable seating plan, a more frequent cleaning schedule, an air filtering/freshining system, and friendlier drivers. Connections to inter-regional transit should be better coordinated with timing and geographic location.

Fare increases are inevitable. Everything goes up in price. A relief plan for those who cannot afford it could ease the pain of increases on those with a low/fixed income. However, a fare increase should be preceded by the service improvements listed above.

Furthermore, if you are going to expect the working poor to pay more for transit, then those who have made their home in the expensive suburbs (Ancaster, Flamborough, Waterdown) should no longer be excluded from the HSR portion of their taxes. Area rating of transit taxes is poor practice that must be reversed in tandem with any fare increase. Lack of transit service to these areas is a weak excuse for area rating, given that better transit means less gridlock for everyone. Moreover, those who have made their home in these areas are in a much better financial position to absorb the additional tax bill than those being forced to pay a higher fare. Everyone should pay their fair share.

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