OC Transpo is slowing down this week with a reduced March break schedule, and so is city hall, adjourned for a couple of weeks of no doubt much-needed rest.
Perhaps fatigue explains the sight of our council again reaching for the laziest of transit solutions, route cuts, thereby offering ever less service for ever more money.
Fresh from their January retreat on $3 million in cuts (and the much quieter snip to Route 245, slipped into the budget when riders weren’t looking), councillors are once again looking to realize savings by eliminating low-ridership routes.
Coun. Steve Desroches, who’s been counting heads on Route 145 Gloucester South Nepean, suggests it could be the next to get the chop.
That original big package of cuts would have downloaded real inconvenience onto the public, and they were having none of it. Not only that, but the $3-million slashing would have saved less than one per cent of Transpo’s operating budget (nearly $340 million last year). The $25,000 allegedly to be saved by shortening Route 245 is true chump change in comparison.
It seems almost rude to point it out, but that $3-million ballpark figure is a familiar one, seemingly the one most often pulled out of the managerial or political posterior when it’s time to make another wild guess about transit.
The $3 million was about what OC Transpo figured it would save on overtime by going to the wall with drivers over scheduling. The results were a ruinous winter strike and an ongoing conflict over this spring’s schedule.
Meanwhile, Transpo is trying to recruit 85 new drivers to this dysfunctional family.
The $3 million is about what Transpo estimates it loses annually to fare fraud. No estimate is available of the financial impact of harassing of riders to make sure they’ve pencilled in the numbers on their bus passes.
Customers who are routinely accused of criminality and whacked with $150 fines for being behind on their paperwork may consider other modes of transport.
Instead of figuring out why more people aren’t using particular routes and trying to do something about it, city council seems to be spending an inordinate amount of energy cherry-picking isolated runs that can be snuffed out with minimal fuss. Taking more buses off the road is unlikely to boost ridership.
In a perfect world you wouldn’t have to protect your services from your councillor, but since you do, vote with your butt and ride the bus. Every rider is an active supporter of transit and a reason to think twice before cutting your route.
There’s safety in numbers.