Seniors bracing for bus fare increase
Some seniors worry a $30 increase to monthly pass will be hard to take
Florence Amero is incensed at the city bus fare increases coming on Sept. 1.
The 75-year-old east Mountain resident is facing a $30 increase in her annual bus pass, which means a $60 increase in two years.
“With everything going up, it’s getting ridiculous,” she said.
Amero says she is speaking for all seniors taking HSR or its DARTS transit for the disabled and is particularly concerned about the people she’s talked to on DARTS trips who sometimes must forego groceries to get their monthly bus pass so they can get to medical appointments.
“I’m a proud woman. I worked all my life and get a small pension. With hydro so high and rents going up … it’s crazy.”
Among the fare increases, the annual seniors bus pass is going from $235 to $265.
Ward 3 Coun. Matthew Green said he typically doesn’t hear from riders concerned about the fare increase until it happens.
But he adds, “It’s definitely going to have an effect.”
It will particularly put pressure on seniors and people on fixed incomes, he says, and that is why the city has to find better ways to fund public transit.
“I don’t believe the municipality should be relying as heavily as we do on fare boxes,” he said, adding much more of transit funding should be coming from property taxes.
Green said the majority of transit operations are still funded through the fare boxes, making bus riders pay twice, since they are also taxpayers.
The Hamilton Social Planning and Research Council’s Sara Mayo agrees much more funding for transit should be coming from the tax base.
“There’s not enough of an understanding that transit helps everyone, whether you use it or not,” she says.
Transit produces less traffic congestion and gets people without cars to their jobs.
“Lots of employers wouldn’t even be here if we didn’t have a transit system,” she said.
“We know low-income people (in Hamilton), when faced with fare increases, are limited in their mobility and access to jobs, and a time when they are also experiencing larger increases in rent than the provincial average because of the market,” she said.
“They are the ones who suffer the most from fare increases.”