HSR fares are going up in the fall, as part of a plan to enhance and fix transit service in Hamilton. But a lot of residents are already paying higher fares thanks to unlicensed vendors overcharging for tickets.
While the price of a cash fare for the HSR will run the transit user $2.55, the cost of a bus ticket is just $2.00. If you purchase your ticket from a retailer approved by the City of Hamilton, as listed on their website, this is the price you’ll pay. But there are dozens or more vendors charging $2.10 or even $2.25 or more. This fee is not approved by the city and is against policy.
Recently a resident brought a particular store that had been overcharging for bus tickets, gauging customers by charging an extra 25 cents per ticket.
@HSRTransit variety store at Baron & lake by tim hortons, refusing to sell strips of tickets can only purchase singles for $2.25.
— Ruth Watt (@ruthieann23) March 31, 2015
But there isn’t much that the city can actually do about it.
While the city did do an investigation into the store with a secret shopper, and confirmed that this store is overcharging for tickets, the city has no power to do anything about it.
On April 15th, the city sent a formal letter to the store outlining that stores are not permitted to overcharge. Unfortunately since this particular store is not contracted with the HSR there is no way to enforce this policy.
The best that the city can do is hope that their “strongly worded letter” is enough to make this store stop overcharging. But this has been less than successful in the past.
So why can’t the city do more?
The problem is that there is no city bylaw prohibiting overcharging of HSR fare media. So while licensed vendors are bound by city policies, other retailers aren’t bound by any contract or rules.
It’s an unfortunate loophole that is benefiting certain retailers, at the cost of the transit user.
In contacting the city regarding the previously mentioned retailer, I also contacted ward 5 Councillor Chad Collins, who is the Councillor in which this store is located. I proposed that there might be an opportunity to introduce a municipal bylaw to protect people, who are being overcharged. A bylaw prohibiting the overcharging of bus tickets.
While a “strongly worded letter” is a nice start, retailers aren’t going to change if the city has no teeth and can’t do anything about it.
Based on the number of stores overcharging, the city is planning a notice in newspapers advising customers that they should only purchase from an authorized vendor based on those listed on the city website. The notice will also remind transit users that by moving to the PRESTO reloadable card then there is no opportunity to be overcharged.
Councillor Collins put forth a motion yesterday at GIC to direct HSR staff to investigate options for Council’s consideration that will prevent local retailers from reselling HSR bus tickets above ‘face value’. The motion passed.
BONUS: Below is a list of the licenced HSR ticket vendors. They are also viewable in Google maps below as well.
— Hamilton Transit (@HSRTransit) April 1, 2015