On July 1, regular transit riders in Ottawa will again be paying more to ride.
While the cash fare price of $3 remains the same, tickets are increasing by 15 cents each – 30 cents per ride – and an adult bus pass will go up $3.75, while the student pass will go up $3. It’s something we’re all used to by now, given the frequency with which fare increases happen in our fair city.
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But just because we expect it doesn’t mean we like it.
Sure, it’s not as whopping as the hit we all took a year ago in July of 2008, when adult monthly passes increased by $8, and express passes by $11.
At that time city council and OC Transpo were not quiet about their goal to have 50 per cent of the transit system’s operating costs come from fares.
Unless you have an extremely short memory, and a forgiving nature, it’s hard not think back to the misery of this past winter’s bus strike, and the realization that while fare increases continue to take place, services stay status quo, or in some cases diminish.
So one has to wonder, why we, the riders, are expected to take yet another fare increase in stride?
Sure, it can be argued that the cash fare is staying the same, but that cash fare is already more than the $2.75 per cash ride the TTC in Toronto charges, and significantly higher than the $1.75 one time ride fee in Montreal.
Putting the brunt of increases on ticket users and pass holders punishes the people who ride the bus the most, often out of necessity because we can’t afford to own cars or take cabs.
If it were as easy as us saying “I’ve had enough of the increases and mediocre service. I’m taking my car,” you can be sure that more people would do so.
And in doing so, the environment and all the drivers caught in gridlock would suffer.
Certainly I am not suggesting bus fares should never go up, nor that we should expect increased service without perhaps paying a little more, but the goal to unload 50 per cent of the costs of using transit onto the riders surely defeats the point of a publicly funded system.
Public transit is, after all, intended to benefit the entire city. There are many who view it as an essential service, not a luxury, and yet we are often left powerless on decisions about how it’s run.
Instead, we have to dig a little deeper into our wallets, and hope it will be a long time before we have to do so again.