Hamilton mulls more city bus fare promotions

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Published September 30, 2021 at 7:00 pm

The Hamilton Street Railway city bus line follow the route of other cities that let younger children ride for free.

A one-year pilot project where children age six to 12 can tap on to the system with a PRESTO card is one of a few fare promotions that will be discussed at the next city public works committee on Monday (Oct. 24). The six-page report, readied by director of transit Maureen Cosyn Heath, says the promotions are necessary since ridership and revenues are likely to remain below 2019, pre-pandemic levels in 2012 to the count of $9.9 million.

The promotion idea that will be before council include:

  • Temporarily sweetening the HSR loyalty program from 11 paid rides to eight until the end of 2022. Riders currently earn free fare for the week once they 11 trips, but Cosyn Heath recommends lowering since many commuters will be working from home part of the time.

    The eight-year-old loyalty program was created to reward those who can afford or do not need a monthly pass.

  • Allowing six- to 12-year-olds to travel for free would be a one-year pilot project before it would implemented. Cosyn Heath noted that Toronto, Burlington, Durham, Oakville, London, Windsor and Kingston have already made this change permanently. The rationale is that a free child fare encourages budget-conscious adult caregivers to take more trips via bus instead of cars.
  • Thirdly, during November and December, customers who use the on-demand Route 18 Waterdown would get to ride for free from 5 a.m. till 10 a.m. on weekdays.

    The transit service is road-testing a service delivery model on Rte. 18 where it adapts as customers request to be picked up. The change is expected to shorten travel and waiting times. The 18 route

The HSR will have a projected $25.4-millon revenue shortfall for 2021 due to ridership plummeting during the COVID-19 pandemic. That gap will be fully covered with funding received from a  Safe Restart Program created senior levels of government, but that funding is only furnished one year at a time.

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