Disappointing news from the December 14, 2015, Saskatoon City Council meeting. Despite a decline in ridership, Council passed an increase to transit fares, with only Councillors Pat Lorje and Zach Jefferies voting against the motion. Sadly virtually every fare category will see an increase. These increases will fly in the face Council’s usual objective of keeping fare increases in line with the City’s Municipal Price Index (MPI) of 2.91%. The chart below shows the percent increase in rate fares, as well as the expected increase in 2016 revenue from each category’s increase.
During the December 2 Budget Review Meeting, Mandy Chen gave a presentation to City Council on behalf of Bus Riders of Saskatoon.
The issue being discussed was a proposed transit fare increase. Mandy presented a compelling case against the increase, and in the end, a majority of councillors agreed, voting to keep fares level and investigate ways to improve the transit system. The full text of Mandy’s address follows. Portions omitted due to a time constraint at the council meeting are included here.
Council Address Full Text
Good Afternoon Your Worship and Councillors. My name is Mandy Chen. I’m here today representing a Saskatoon citizen advocacy group aiming at improving transit service: the Bus Riders of Saskatoon. Our group formed in early September this year by the riders for the riders in reaction to the major service deterioration resulting from the June 2014 changes to the preceding routes/schedules. Currently there are over 300 active Facebook group members and we have held 6 regular meetings in the past 2 months in addition to other collective actions and 2 meetings with the City representatives.
Recently we observed several problems in the 2015 City Budget; we do not think there is enough investment to sustain let alone improve service. At the rate you’ve invested, our research shows that you have only invested enough to replace the current fleet of buses every 81 years. Despite this lack of investment, there is a proposed fare increase of $226,300. This is simply unacceptable. Reasons being, first, Public Transit is for everyone, so the cost should be shared by everyone; second, what is in urgent need right now is ridership increase rather than fare increase; and lastly the current fare is already high considering its service delivery. Read More