Wednesday, March 3, 2010

One! Of! Us! One! Of! Us!

...or, why Steve's getting the bike out early this year:

My friend Steve Tennant posted a note on Facebook yesterday, explaining why he began riding his bike to work on Monday, much earlier than usual, this year. I asked him if I could repost it here, partly because I love his breakdown of the ways that OC Transpo has stumbled and staggered in the last few years, and partly because, well, I have to smile a little, inwardly, when I see yet another bike on the road while the snow's still down and the weather's still dodgy. I think OC Transpo's fares are punishing enough already, considering how many of the people who have no choice but the bus - the people that can't afford cars - are also among the city's working poor, who depend on the bus to get to the jobs that keep them afloat.

(And I also have to add that this afternoon, while I was gliding along Bank past a mile or so of backed-up traffic - which included two buses, held up like everyone else - I did feel a certain amount of smug satisfaction.)

And now, over to Steve:

Am I ever pissed off that Spring has arrived in this fair city! Before warmer weather has hit and people enjoy various ways and means of getting out and about, our City has decided to hike transit fares, meaning I'll miss out on participating on wallet rape season for some time. Below is a list of the cost of regular [monthly] bus pass fares for the past 5 years:

• 2010 - $91.50 (+$6.75 / 7.96%)
• 2009 - $84.75 (+$3.75 / 4.62%)
• 2008 - $81 (+$8 / 10.95%)
• 2007 - $73 (+$1.75 / 2.45%)
• 2006 - $71.25

So over five years, the cost to ride the bus has increased by $20.25 or 28.42%. The current increase over the course of 12 months works out to the cost of one adult regular fare at 2008's prices ($81). They harp(er) on about how the tax savings are incredible...15% refundable credit. Wow! I could pee my pants...not. You would do better to contribute to a charity or a political party if you want tax credits.

Let's examine a few factors that probably led to this sharp increase:

1) Mismanagement by Ottawa City Hall and their lackies at OC Transpo. City Hall, in all its infinite stupidity, cannot make a budget work. Incompetent leaders make incompetent decisions and those poorly conceived decisions have costs that are transferred onto the public, especially when pissing matches occur. (See below)

2) ATU Local 279.
The local transit union decided to strike a blow to the city and its residents in the winter of 2008 by holding a strike right before Christmas. They allege the City/OC Transpo management were unfairly dealing with them, yadda yadda yadda. The result was over a month and a half without bus service and really pissed off people.

Now you have residents who are mad at and can't trust the three parties: City Hall, OC Transpo and the Transit Union because no matter which way you play it, all three are out for themselves. To that effect, ridership has decreased as people are opting for alternative means to get around (cars, bikes, carpooling, etc) and because of the net drop in revenues, the City stupidly increases fares onto current users to make up for the black hole that ever grows. They could decrease fares to attract people back, but won't because they'll never give up what they have and can get.

I can't say what it is that I'm getting different between this past Sunday and Monday that merits an extra $6.75/month, but it must really be something!!

Interestingly, fares in the past have generally gone up around July 1st each year. This year they seem to not have been able to wait and instituted effective March 1st. They must be trying to "balance" their budgets (or make appearances to do so) prior to the municipal elections this Fall. I hope Fall is the right word for it.

I hate to contribute to the black hole, but when I think that I'll be getting fitter earlier in the year by riding my bike and only using the bus in the extreme cold and saving money, I can't really see why I would want to contribute to an extremely flawed system. As it is, I'm sure that somewhere, somehow, some new tax or access or user fee will just gobble up what I don't already spend. As a new home owner, the City of Ottawa is already doing a bang up job at being creative in how often and how many ways they can gouge me, along with their other corporate crony friends. I guess even not buying bus passes, I'm already contributing (not by choice) to the transit glut.

No comments:

Post a Comment