Bus de­clines are un­sur­pris­ing

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

RE: HSR rid­er­ship de­clines as ser­vice im­proves (Feb. 1)

As a fre­quent tran­sit taker, the drop in rid­er­ship re­ported in An­drew Dreschel’s ar­ti­cle doesn’t surprise me. There are some com­muters who have no choice ex­cept to stick it out. But oth­ers get fed up and even­tu­ally buy a car, find a car pool, or move to a more tran­sit friendly mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

Tak­ing the bus for most peo­ple is a de­fault op­tion, but no one’s first choice. Once rid­ers suf­fer prob­lems and man­age to find new ways to get from A to B, they no longer care about im­prove­ments, and won’t change their new rou­tines. This is why we can­not con­flate the idea that bus rid­er­ship will re­flect that of LRT. Peo­ple are more in­clined to try new tran­sit than be swayed by any HSR up­grades. Smooth timely travel beats rick­ety buses speed­ing down bumpy roads any day.

We also can­not ex­pect to of­fer ev­ery ru­ral res­i­dent in­creased bus ser­vice, as ur­ban sprawl is clearly cost­ing more than it’s worth. There­fore, ap­proach­ing the bus bud­get cau­tiously, in light of all this, is prob­a­bly best.

De­spite an in­crease in pop­u­la­tion and tough eco­nomic times, rid­er­ship trends will likely con­tinue to see con­sis­tent drops. But there is no mystery here. Peo­ple still have plenty of places to go — they’ve just made a point of find­ing an­other way to get there. Rob Hardy, Stoney Creek

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