Good evening Mr. Mayor, and Councillors:
I’m here to speak in favour of the proposed Transit discount promotion plan. Please try fare discount promotions frequently, until Transit ridership has tripled past its current level of about 4% of commuting trips overall.
More important than fare discounts are service level increases. The bottom line is that more buses must be purchased, whether they are the short buses Mayor Fougere has said he’s fond of, or the traditionally sized ones that get overfilled at some times of the day in Regina.
While the report passed by the Executive Council meeting lists price of the bus as one factor for why people don’t use it, as the president of a car sharing organization, I have some insight into another factor I didn’t see listed. People tend to own automobiles in Regina, and CAA estimates that people spend more than $8000/year on owning and operating each car. Per day, this means people spend $22/day on their car, even if it’s sitting at home in the driveway. For a round trip cash fare for the bus ( $5 ) the total cost to a car-owning individual to ride the bus could be viewed as $27. If the bus ride is free, the car-owning rider is still paying roughly $22 just to leave their car at home for the day.
$5 to ride the bus is only 22% the cost most Reginans spend anyway on going to work or school by car. There are clearly bigger factors than actual price, influencing which transportation mode people choose. I have the answers for you. If you don’t feel they are the answers, I ask you to debate them, so your position can be known to Regina’s electors.
If you want more people on buses, please try using them for yourselves. As influential people start participating in modes of transportation other than private cars, other residents will follow your lead.
City design is another factor in creating, or alleviating traffic problems. Places to work, take kids to daycare, and go to school have been, and are being, built far away from places people live. Streets are also not designed to accommodate buses or bikes at a higher priority than less social forms of transportation. Some streets don’t even have sidewalks to help people feel safe from automobile traffic; an obvious example is to the Airport.
These are the sort of things I could be pointing out at Design Regina this evening, if it hadn’t been double-booked by the City with this council meeting.
Most people in Regina don’t ride the bus because of cultural reasons that are enforced by most of our city councillors who don’t participate in the public transportation system on a regular or even single publicized instance. The next biggest reason is the level of service is not great enough to meet the convenience expectations, or work/school requirements, of potential transit users such as yourselves. The next reason would be price, but it’s not the price of the bus, it’s the lost value of the parked car everyone has bought into to feel safe, responsible, and employable in Regina. People without cars are considered unsafe, irresponsible, and under-employable through the actions of city governance and Regina’s culture. Regina citizens and newcomers learn the culture in Regina says that buses cannot be relied upon, are socially undesirable, and anyone who can afford a car should have one to improve their social status.
How can people trust the City enough that they’d get to a comfort level where they can sell their car and depend on transit (and other modes), when bus routes are shut down from a shortage of buses, like they were last Winter? Transit ridership increased by 8%, but the transit budget didn’t increase at even a comparable pace.
A price cut in fares isn’t going to change those problems, but it won’t hurt at least. Additional marketing of Transit through the fare promotions will probably help Transit ridership more than the price cut. Fare discounts are simply next to doing nothing, yet it’s the most Regina Transit can do if their budget isn’t increased to meet their continually ignored request for more bus purchases.