Hamilton 350

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Transit for All

This campaign is a collaboration between Hamilton 350 and the Hamilton chapter of the Council of Canadians.

We chose to focus on free, frequent and clean public transit during the municipal elections in October 2022 and we believe it is a goal worth pursuing over the long term.

What are the benefits?

For transit riders:

  • More reliably frequent service, aided by efficiency through all-door entry, no fare collection, and elimination of fare disputes.

For car drivers:

  • Fewer cars on the road resulting in less congestion and more parking spaces.
  • Relief from high gas prices.
  • A more viable option to downsize to one car.
  • Less taxiing around of kids and other family members.

For everyone:

  • Reduced greenhouse gases and better air quality.
  • Increased safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

Fairness:

  • $1100+ in savings for students and low income workers.
  • Improved access to medical and employment opportunities.
  • More equitable access to the necessities of life, including green spaces.
  • Elimination of area rating, where suburbs that can afford more pay less.
  • A reduction in the massive subsidies for cars.

How can we pay for it?

While more analysis is needed to produce a working economic model, here are a few possibilities:

  • Use the provincial/federal gas tax revenue for transit, as was intended. Much of Hamilton’s share is currently allocated to road maintenance. This share would also rise as ridership increases.
  • Elimination of fare collection and administration, as well as the 9 per cent cut that goes to Presto.
  • Additional tax revenue from the elimination of area rating.
  • Allocating advertising revenue from the HSR to the HSR.
  • Use of funds diverted from other municipal departments, such as road maintenance, the police budget, and so on.

This is not a new idea. Hamilton would not be breaking new ground in implementing this. As reported in The New York Times, around 100 cities worldwide have already implemented free transit.

Here in Canada, the Town of Orangeville launched a two-year fare-free transit pilot project in January 2023 and the City of Ottawa is currently investigating the idea.