December 02, 2005

'Tis the season to hate OC Transpo

Fares on OC Transpo went up yesterday. The new fare is a whopping $3.00. If Transpo isn't the most expensive bus service in the country, then its competitor is being run by Boss Hogg. Apparently the average cash fare in Ontario is around $2.25.

I use a monthly pass, the cost of which skyrocketed from $65 to $71.25. Fortunately, after running a few calculations, I determined that the pass has still already paid for itself by the 24th ride.

Since I have lived in Ottawa, fares have now risen $1.15 from 1.85 in 1997. By contrast, the much larger (and obviously better managed) Toronto Transit Commission has had, by my count, two fare hikes in the last 11 years, comprising an increase from $2 to $2.50. I think we get about two hikes a year here now. When I lived in Toronto in 1994, I was surprised at how expensive it was to ride the bus there. Not any more.

Not long from now, some boneheaded bean-counter is going to realize that ridership (and therefore revenue) is down, and some genius will call for a fare increase to make up the shortfall. Because that is the kind of mushy-headed bureaucrat that operates a transit service.

Meanwhile, negotiations between the City of Ottawa and the Amalagamated Transit Union continue. At this point, ironically agreements have been hammered out on every issue except for wages. I hope someone points out the obvious to Transpo: they now get an extra quarter per passenger now and that fuel costs are on their way down again. Unless an agreement is reached by Sunday night, the buses stop. Since I live (somewhat) close to downtown - if you can call a 45-60 minute walk "somewhat close" - this isn't a real major issue for me, at least immediately. But there are students living in the suburbs with exam season just around the bend. The last person I would want to be was a U. of Zero student boarding in Barrhaven.