Fare hikes chosen over higher taxesThe bus fare hikes approved yesterday could have been replaced with a $12 annual tax increase on most households according to city treasurer Joe Rinaldo. Instead regular HSR users will pay $96 a year more to ride the bus next year.The fare increases will take effect on January 1 if finalized tomorrow evening by council. They include rises of 15 cents on cash fares, 10 cents on tickets, $8 on the monthly adult pass and $7 on the monthly pass used by elementary and secondary school students.Brian McHattie, one of four councillors who opposed the fare hikes, argued that it made more sense to use taxes to collect the $1.8 million a year that the fare increases are expected to generate for the HSR.Rinaldo presented tables to the meeting showing the impact on average taxes with and without the fare increase. For a $200,000 home in Hamilton the difference would be $12 a year. The cost to suburban residents would have been about $3 in Ancaster, and $4 in each of Dundas, Stoney Creek and Glanbrook.Each former municipality pays a unique transit tax rate based on how many miles of HSR service occurs there. Thus an average home in Hamilton this year pays $174 for HSR, while urban residents of Ancaster in the same value home pay $36. The comparable rate in Dundas is $41 and $53 in Stoney Creek.The new fare hikes come only six months after similar ones that were imposed in July. The adult monthly pass that cost $65 in June will by $79 in January of next year – an increase of 21 percent, while monthly school passes will be up by 26 percent over the prices earlier this year ($63 instead of $50 a month).HSR fare prices have risen faster than inflation since the mid 1980s. In 1985 riders paid 90 cents a ride. Inflation would push that to $1.58 in 2007. Most of the increases took place before 1998 – the point at which cash fares hit $2.00 a ride.Despite the fare hikes, the inflation-adjusted amount spent on the HSR is about 20 percent less this year than it was in 1994. The transit budget is mainly funded by fares and city taxes, with some federal and provincial funding starting in 2005.Councillors also decided yesterday to establish a transit subsidy program that will give up to 809 low income people a 50 percent price reduction on their monthly HSR pass. The one-year pilot program will start in April and is aimed at the 25,000 Hamiltonians defined as “working poor”. Some limited assistance with transit fares is already available to an additional 25,000 residents receiving disability or Ontario Works payments.
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Tuesday, November 27, 2007
no tax transit (riders pay more)
New routes, another fare increase(!) and no taxes to help pay for transit...