Se­niors brac­ing for bus fare in­crease

Some se­niors worry a $30 in­crease to monthly pass will be hard to take

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - CARMELA FRAGOMENI cfragomeni@thes­ 905-526-3392 | @Car­matTheSpec

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.”

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