Comment 35001

By Scooter Commuter (anonymous) | Posted October 28, 2009 at 09:05:52

A theory: The '80s were a boom time for a lot of things; I hear there were even department stores downtown. Nowadays, however, the retail and employment advantage has shifted to the suburbs, and because the HSR's infrastructure doesn't service the mountain properly, people chose cars.

Hamilton's fare structure isn't totally wackadoo, IMHO. $2.50 adult cash fare is pretty much middle-of-the-road compared to most other Ontario cities, and cheaper than Burlington ($2.75) or Oakville ($3) or York Region ($3.25). Mississauga and Toronto seem like they'll be upping their fares in the new year. It happens. Nobody likes it, of course. It's never a good time to pay more for the same level of service for a fossilized system, but if the city is in fact facing a $31 million deficit for 2010, there won't be room for much more than platitudes and wafter-thin action plans. The good news is, once Metrolinx arrives, these arguments won't have to happen. I suspect fare increases will simply be mandated by the province.

Indulging my more cynical side, I suspect that the HSR is imagined to be revenue-neutral because of insufficient political will. Buses aren't sexy. Even transit activists will tell you that much. And (unlike the equally unsexy water/sewer infrastructure issue) the suburban bloc isn't even particularly well-served by the HSR. Some see it as a lower-city shuttle service for the working poor, and these cyclical fare-hike flare-ups do little to counter that POV. Given all of that, transit-based tax levies are political kryponite -- supporting a business that has a dysfunctional business plan -- especially going into an election year.

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