About two years ago I sat on a panel about public transportation in the City of Hamilton. We sat before a small group of people at Mills Hardware in the downtown core and talked about the HSR. The event was organized and hosted by Joey Coleman.
During the panel discussion the question was brought up about the ten year transit strategy and the proposed fare hikes that were to come.
As someone who has been very much pro transit I empathized with Dave Dixon and the plan. Getting the city to approve and properly fund the HSR is always a tough sell, and typically the response is “do more with less.”
In the discussion I shared that I didn’t like the idea of fare increases but I would stomach them if it helped improve the transit system.
Coupled with that there was a planned investment in transit from the general tax levy planned in year three of the plan. We’re now in year three and that investment is being deferred.
In the quest to bring the annual tax hike across the city as low as possible, this deferral means that the city will be cutting just over $2 million from the transit budget for 2017.
That doesn’t mean that the money won’t come when we actually get that year three, one year later. But after two years of fare hikes and funding for transit improvements coming solely from those taking the bus, the promise of actual investment from the city is being broken.
But it does make you wonder. How many times can city council kick the ball down the road to be dealt with later?
2018’s budget process will directly precede the next municipal election. Will council choose to reinstate and continue the now EVELEN year transit strategy or will they defer it yet again until after the election?
When will the members of council in the City of Hamilton actually take transit seriously?