If you ever get the chance to sit through a committee of the whole meeting, for the love of God, don’t do it.
COW, as many refer to it as, is a different form of regional council. On Tuesday, it was deciding whether Metro Transit riders must pay more to get on buses.
You would think that’s sort of interesting, but COW has a way of making everything painful. Like passing-a-kidney-stone-the-size-of-a-small-goat painful.
For one thing, you have to listen ad nauseam to many councillors who, it seems, have never ridden a bus.
Spryfield-Herring Cove Coun. Steve Adams proposed a scheduled increase of five cents every year. Try telling someone who has to carry around a satchel of nickels so he can pay the $2.05 bus fare. I guess thinking of an electronic, renewable bus pass similar to the MacPass is too much to ask for.
Albro Lake–Harbourview Coun. Jim Smith had his own inspirational words.
“The majority of people who take the bus can’t afford cars. And they can’t afford cars because they don’t have the greatest jobs,” he said.
Gee, thanks, Jim Smith.
To be fair, Smith was trying to emphasize the importance of Metro Transit and lobby for more funding. But this illustrates the problem — too many people look at transit as a last resort instead of a viable alternative.
After close to three hours of debate, they decided to raise fares by 25 cents. Most decided the hike was necessary to help cover a multimillion-dollar budget shortfall.
To their credit, they recognized that people aren’t going to swallow paying more unless they get increased and better service.
So here’s the obvious answer. Students are lobbying for it and hopefully this time people will listen. What self-respecting city of this size doesn’t have public transportation after midnight?
Do that and we can sit back and watch late-night violence drop off because fewer people are wandering the streets. We can watch the infamous difficulty of finding a cab in Halifax’s downtown be eased because there’s actually an alternative.
And it will make council’s life easier because people might actually accept paying more to get on a bus if they know that they’ll be gaining a new way home after 12:30 a.m.
– Paul McLeod is a staff reporter at Metro Halifax. He is currently in rehab for being a political junkie. It’s going badly.