Sault Transit Reform Suggestions for a Better Transit System
LOCAL2 Staff for local2 sault ste. marie
August 11th, 2012 at 9:18pm
Within the past three years, Sault Transit introduced a 'Student fare' in which students would be able to ride the city bus for 25 cents. This program proved to be a popular one, and ridership increased. Of course, though the ridership increased, so did costs that were associated with managing and operating the fleet of buses, as well as wages for staff. It was agreed that the student fare would increase to $1.00, and Student 'Youth Passes' were introduced at a cost of $10.00. Sault Transit Reform embraced the plan, calling it "a cheap and effective mode of transportation for students travelling to and from school twice daily." In early 2011, Sault Transit Reform, under the leadership of popular Local2 journalist Matthew Kot, lauched a petition drive after hearing rumors that the Youth passes would increase 50% in price, to $15.00. Over 600 people signed the petition, which circulated in high schools across the city. City Council ignored the petition and went ahead with the price increase, citing "rising operation costs" as the primary reason for the increase. A year later, the Youth passes once again took a hike, as did regular transit fares. Every person needing a ride on a Sault Transit bus now has to pay $2.50. Youth Passes are currently $20.00. Again, the cost to operate the Transit system was cited as the reason for the price increase.
Sault Transit Reform understands the need to pay down the rising cost to operate a public transit system. Released budget numbers show the Sault Transit Services millions of dollars in debt. However, Sault Transit Reform cannot ignore citizens who claim that not all people can afford to pay more for a bus ride. Many people in Sault Ste. Marie live in poverty, and do not have methods of transportation other than Taxis (Which are expensive) and Sault Transit. People are concerned that the more a bus ride costs, the less they will use the service, resulting in a decrease in ridership, and less revenues for Sault Transit. Suggestion Number One is to keep Transit fares and passes at reasonable prices, and to alert the public 60 days in advance of a price increase, so that the public will know of the increases when they come into effect.
Over the years, Sault Transit has removed many bus stops and even cut the "Great Northern" bus route. Of course, this was because of "too little traffic". However, people have expressed interest in a bus route that allows citizens without transportation to access some of Sault Ste. Marie's popular locations in the northern end of the city, including the Hiawatha park, as well as Mockingbird Hill farm. People also express a desire to see a route run to the airport. Suggestion Number Two urges Sault Transit to examine the possiblity of a bus route to popular destinations such as the Airport, Mockingbird Hill Farm, and the Hiawatha highlands.
In many cities, such as Toronto, Thunder Bay, Sudbury and Ottawa, transit systems are replacing their fleets with new and modern buses. In our city, there are a number of new buses that have started carrying passengers in the past few years. Sault Transit Reform commends the Sault Transit Services, the Provincial government, as well as City Council, for bringing these new buses to the city. Suggestion Number Three is to keep replacing outdated buses with new and modern vehicles.
We encourage transit riders in Sault Ste. Marie to 'like' Sault Transit Reform's Facebook page, which provides bus route maps, detour maps, and suggestions from the public.