I wish to take a moment to highlight a letter received to the Guelph Tribune and published last week. It’s from Mitch Fountain, and it’s basically one of the few articulations as to why a transit fee hike is a good idea.
"There were lots of good letters from both sides on how budget restrictions may affect bus service in Guelph."
I honestly haven't heard a lot of support for one side, and if anything all the momentum is on the side of those that oppose cuts to Guelph Transit. Want proof, see the delegations at the City Council meeting this week. Also, see the councillors who themselves are trying to backpedal by having staff look at the cost of keeping 20-minute service in summer, and reinstating stat holiday services.
"The fact remains, though, that we the taxpayers, especially the ones who have never ridden a city bus, cannot afford to continue with these high annual tax increases."
Hmm. Well, I don't use the city's soccer fields. I don't use the Victor Davis pool. I don't visit the library in the south end. I don't walk on the sidewalks on Clairefield very often.
I also don't rent games from the X-Box 360 section of Rogers Video. Nor do I ever go in to the 7-11 at Victoria and Eramosa. And I have never attended Festival Italiano.
This is a ridiculous argument: I don't use a service, ergo I should not have to pay for it. Transit it there for people that need to/want to/have to use it. Like garbage pick-up. You don't have to leave your garbage and recycling on the curb for the city to pick up, you can always drop it off at the dump yourself. Cherry picking the services you want to support will have the same effect as the school vouchers argument in the U.S.; some services would be flush and others would be left indigent.
"What is the real cost of a bus ride in Guelph?"
It's $8.9 million. That is what it cost in the year 2010, anyway. It's right there in the budget document.
"Why don’t we figure that out..."
They did. And they do every year.
"...then put the buses back into Sunday/holiday service for the routes that make sense with a Sunday/ holiday rate?"
Not necessarily bad ideas. Why does the #24 run the full Industrial sector on Sundays? And a lot of University bus routes like the #57, #58, and #59 don't run on the weekend already. Special holiday rate, I'm not opposed per se, but having different rates on certain days of the week or times of the month doesn't make a lot of sense if we're trying to promote consistent and regular transit use. "Honey, is today a $2.75 day or a $3.25 day on the bus?" Reduced service on certain routes at off-peak times is something other transit systems do, but I can't think of any with rotating rates.
"No impact to the taxpayer, and people who need to get to work or wish to go to a park can do it for $5 or $6."
People who take the bus don't need to get to work? Interesting.
"That’s what it costs for me to drive there in my Jeep!"
It actually costs you a lot more than that when you factor in gas, maintenance and insurance of your Jeep. And while we're on the subject of paying the true cost for things, why don't you start paying the full price for gas? It's an industry still heavily subsidized in North America in the interest of making it as cheap as possible.
"City workers facing summer layoffs could even pick up some overtime shifts. Wouldn’t that work?"
I'm not sure what your definition of "layoff" is, but it generally means no work of any kind for those affected. How many "overtime shifts" would a driver have to do a week in order to make up the lost salary of their full-time job? And while you're at it, multiply that by 22, which is how many drivers were laid off last summer.
Overall, this letter sticks in my craw (as it were) for a kind of base ignorance it has. It's an attitude I keep hoping we'll grow out of, that bus service is beneath some people and is an option left open only for poor folks, students and hippies. It's okay to piss on them because, well, I guess because some of us live in a world were Scrooge was never visited by Marley and the Christmas Ghosts. (Incidentally, the name of my new band ;-)
Just another reminder that for some people in Guelph, all services are sacred except transit. We shall see if council can resits the urge to acquiesce.