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.
Bryce once viewed the purchase of buses as a “gamble”. What would she say to seniors about the purchase of buses to be used by students???