About the Blog:

Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Where's My Elephant?

I was working on this week's Guelph Beat, when I typed out this paragraph that I have since disgarded.


And to answer the inevitable question: no you won’t be getting a bit of cash back on your property taxes. “Residents are paying for 51 weeks of service in 2010 so the City of Guelph will not be issuing refunds on property taxes,” Karen Farbridge wrote on her blog that Monday. Well, that’s weird. I could have swore the five closed days were as a result of the city being unable to reach a deal with the unions to allow for rotating layoffs that would avoid complete closures of city services. Did I just blow my mind? I don’t know, but the people that read about this on the Mercury’s City Hall blog certainly blew their tops.


I was referencing a post on the 59 Carden St blog that mentioned the Mayor's above comments. But joking aside, it did strike me as weird that a five-day shut down was taken into account as part of the city budget last December. It took me a while, but I did figure out that this was correct. The intention was that all city workers would take five unpaid days off, but that those days would be mapped out so that services would be unaffected and facilities wouldn't have to be shut down for those days. Considering that employees work five days a week, the five days off effectively means a week off. Hence, the city would only be operating for a total of 51 weeks according to whatever way those days off would be implemented by human resources.

Still, this does nothing to resolve the mystery of transit. Karen Farbridge says that the tax hike was adjusted to take into account 51 weeks of work over 52, otherwise the property tax rate would have been higher. So why don't these same rules apply to transit? I quote the city's benevolent transit manager:

“If we provided a discounted rate we’d negate the financial improvements we’ve made,” said Mike Anders, the city’s general manager of community connectivity and transit. “We’ve analyzed the situation, and because we’re not able to identify which day of the week riders are using them ... it’s not possible for us to discount the pass.

“Commuters only use the bus Monday to Friday and they wouldn’t normally use the service on Sundays. Therefore they would then be getting a discount on their travel.”

In other words: screw you if you use your bus pass to go other places besides your work on the weekend. And if you work on the weekend, screw you too. Is it just me, or has Mr Anders' attitude to the people that use the service he's manager of teeter on the spiteful. Indeed, the city's patting itself on the back for future improvements to transit (ie: transit hub) seem hypocrytical in the face of the fact that transit service right now blows. (Of course, if more than 1.2 per cent of city staff used the service, they'd know that.) Do you like getting to work on time, or the convenience of making your transfer on time? Too bad, is what transit management has to say. Take an earlier bus. (Forget that it already takes a half-hour or more to get across town already.)

My question remains the same: why are bus riders being punished, it seems, almost exclusively? No discount for lost service, no heartfelt apology/clarification from city managers (much less the Mayor) and no sign of things getting better. Barely a month in, things seem to be getting worse, which prompts the old repose: how low can it go?

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