Transit Fares Going Up, Same Old Service

It’s frustrating seeing a City Council who 10/11ths don’t use Transit at all, deciding to make it more difficult for more people to ride the bus. Adult fares will be at $2.75 when cash is used after January 1, 2015. This slows down boarding buses too with extra coins for cash payers to load into a coin slot that easily jams.

I was also asked how far behind our service is, and sadly in ways it’s over a decade behind. One easy example is being unable to buy a day-pass on buses, even though there are ticket printers on them for the past two years. This sort of technology has been used on Ottawa OC Transpo buses since 2002 or earlier.

The good news is that some fixes are inexpensive. The fare hike would pay for all of these ideas. It’s more likely the Mayor will plunder the fare box revenue for other projects in the City though, and starve Transit a little more of the money it needs to improve.

Transit Fare Increase Flawed

With respect to the purchase of six replacement low-floor buses, I’d like Council to double that. Council should also direct staff to approach Saskatoon, Calgary, and Winnipeg transit services and buy buses in bulk. Since it takes time to acquire new buses, it’s prudent to start preparing now for easily expected increased transit use in the coming years. Ridership is already headed upward, and there’s a good probability that University of Regina students will soon implement a universal bus pass. It’s foreseeable this will increase ridership among students by 40%, while improving traffic and parking concerns simultaneously in south Regina.

With respect to the proposed fare increase, I question this Council’s commitment to reducing congestion downtown. Anyone aware of basic economic theory could explain that a price increase, with a constant supply, will reduce demand. Since you’re all experts in basic economics, I think people must conclude that Council intends to reduce demand on Regina Transit by not buying enough buses, and by increasing the fare instead of transit taxes. It’s not prudent to increase street taxes while reducing transit demand, as that will only put more pressure on our already over burdened streets.

Most people in this room know the majority of money spent on Transit is not found in the fare box already. Increasing fares simply because that’s what’s been done before, is not solving the problem of Transit being underfunded. I’ve twice proposed to Council in budget meetings that a modest tax increase of 0.1% a year be implemented. This is a tiny fraction of the increase now proposed to catch up on road repairs in over a decade.

Council should also approach the provincial government and ask why Saskatchewan lacks a public transit strategy and funding pool. Our provincial population is increasingly urban, so while it may not have made sense 20 years ago, today it’s essential our province start thinking about transit in order to have thriving cities. To preempt the routine dismissive question asking if I’ve approached the province with this idea, I reply that it’s your job, but if you won’t do it I’ll again attempt to win a seat at Council along with people who will value public services like Transit.

#iBusYQR 2014 #Transit Challenge

Again, Councillor Fraser has made an effort to interest Reginans and fellow Councilors to try using transit for about a week, so they can learn if it works for them, and if not why not. The resulting information could be used by Regina Transit to improve bus service around our city. Well, I don’t think there are too many takers this time, but there are at least a few downtown workers giving it a whirl, and it seems to be working out for them.

Announced just before this challenge, was a push to raise bus fares by ~21% within only a couple years. Considering ridership is already way under where everyone would like it to be, increasing the price people pay at the fare box is a stupid move. Since the Mayor isn’t stupid, one must conclude it’s a conscious effort to suppress the number of people willing using Transit.

Solar Power For Regina, Saskatchewan

Interested in having solar power installed on your home in Regina? Here’s a new home project that’s planning to use solar power from the first Watt. They are using Sound Solar Systems, but there are several reputable solar installers in the Regina area, and in Saskatchewan. Without a south-facing roof to take advantage of, I’ve instead purchased good quality LED light bulbs from Sound Solar instead, to cut down on my electricity consumption.

Canada’s Car Culture Criticized

John Klein:

Regina City Council should consider what these tourists are telling them. Time to get priorities in order, and stop putting cars ahead of people.

Originally posted on Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff:

Glad to see some Danes standing up for Canada.

A Canadian stands up for the Danes.

The Danes stand up for themselves.

A few points have arisen as a result of this discussion, largely in defence of “car culture.” I’d like to address them if I may:

We love our cars!

That’s great. What is important, though, is having choices, and safe, affordable and convenient choices. Cars should not be the only option. In a sustainable, livable city, a citizen should have a choice to walk, cycle, run, take the bus, ride the train, get a lift with a friend or drive. These choices must be open to everybody old, young, able bodied and disabled. It is possible to have it all, and the option of driving a car should be alongside, rather than at the expense of healthier, quicker and often more affordable options.

Country X is…

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