I recently read an article suggesting Durham Region Transit be free, and while I applaud the concept, I can’t see it becoming a reality.
That said there are several things Durham Transit can do. First let me applaud its projects currently being carried out in the northern areas of the region as well as the Presto card pilot project for Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program recipients. The funds we receive from the federal and provincial government are based on ridership so we need to increase this funding, which I will point out is still our tax dollars, just a different pocket.
But regarding how to increase ridership, first we must freeze the current transit fare levels for the next three years. I don’t have the figures to support this, but I do know ridership decreases when the rates are increased. If the fares remain at their current level, then we shouldn’t lose any of those riders.
The second problem Durham Transit has is the frequency of service, people will not want to wait a half hour between buses. Now reality says this can’t be changed overnight but increasing service can be done, starting with all 900 routes and making service every 15 minutes rather than 30 on all but the Pulse line, which is serviced every 10 minutes or so. We can then look at increasing regular services to the rest of the region with a timeline of the next three to five years.
A third thing we should do is, since the PC MPPs we elected to office in the last provincial election seem to have abandoned their pledge to remove the tolls from Highways 412 and 418, make it so Durham Region gets a third of those tolls collected without penalty to be used by public transit.