Thursday, November 13, 2008

transit funding

Invest in HSR now

The Hamilton Spectator

(Nov 13, 2008)

Re: 'Bad timing for HSR fare hike' (Editorial, Nov. 12)

The Spectator's opposition to another bus fare hike is welcome and well-founded. But your "solution" of asking the HSR to further tighten its belt is not practical.

The HSR has been forced to cut back almost continuously for 20 years by councils that see transit as little more than social assistance. In the 1990s, the HSR budget was slashed by 40 per cent and, even today, despite years of provincial gas tax subsidies, it is still 20 per cent lower than it was in 1994.

The fare hikes, after deducting lost ridership caused by them, will generate only $1.29 million. That could be covered by a tax increase of only $6 per home. Many councillors say the money has to come from elsewhere, that Hamilton can't afford such improvements -- which helps explain why other municipalities are a higher priority for provincial transit investments. Queen's Park helps those who help themselves.

We cannot afford not to dramatically improve our transit system. The health impacts of air pollution, looming climate chaos, an aging population, an energy-constrained future and especially the economic meltdown are each powerful arguments for investing much more in the HSR and DARTS.

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