Sunday, November 03, 2013

Oakville Transit Fare Increase

All we want are the facts, ma'am"
Joe Friday

Making decisions in municipal politics and in all facets of life, I suppose, requires having some facts.

Some politicians, Rob Ford comes to mind, just make these facts up.

Others seem to have an incredible ability to absorb and /memorize relevant bits of information and pull them out when necessary.

Most municipal politicians depend on staff to gather and present these relevant facts so that that policy decisions can be made by the policy makers and the rational for those policies be understood by the public.

It goes without saying, then, that the facts need to be accurate.  With that in mind the Crack Research Team (CRT) here at When the Mayor Smiles was deployed to look at the following statement contained in a recent Town of Oakville Media Release.

"Oakville Transit fares, even with the proposed changes, continue to be among the lowest when compared to other similar sized transit agencies in the GTA."

Oakville staff are proposing to change i.e. raise fares.  If approved the new rates will be:

$3.50 for a cash fare
$105 an adult monthly pass
and $50 for a Monthly pass for those over 65.

With these new rates will Oakville continue “to be the “among the lowest?”

CRT has compared prices around the GTA.  We’ll leave out Hogtown.  By our count we’ve got Brampton, Burlington, Durham, Mississauga Oakville and York to look at.

Comparing the cash fares of these six properties and using Oakville’s proposed new fares we find the average cash fare is $3.39.  That’s lower than Oakville’s proposed $3.50.  In fact, only York has a higher cash fare.

As far as monthly adult passes Oakville’s proposed new rate ($105) is below the average of $109.67 and their seniors’ monthly pass is right at the average of about fifty bucks. 

But the media release talked about “similar sized transit agencies in the GTA.”

In our view, the comparator group drops down to Burlington and Durham as Brampton, Mississauga and York are all much larger than Oakville.  Two is hardly much of a comparison.  So let’s look at the seven other Ontario cities closest in population to Oakville.

They are Kitchener, Windsor, Richmond Hill, Burlington, Greater Sudbury, Oshawa and Barrie. 

Average cash fare for the seven is $3.05. 
Oakville’s proposed cash fare is $3.50

Average adult monthly pass for the seven is $89.91.
Oakville’s proposal is for $105.00

Average monthly senior pass for the seven is $50.86 
Oakville is $50.00

We conclude, then, that Oakville’s current fares would seem to be more in line with similar places.  The proposed increase would make them among the more expensive.

Transit advocate Doug Brown reminds us that this is not the first time fares and costs have been “misrepresented” to justify higher fares in Oakville and Burlington.  

In 2010 both Burlington and Oakville used the downloading of Halton's financial contribution to GO from the Region to the lower tier municipalities to create the false impression that there had been a large increase in local transit spending,” Doug notes.

Of course, decision makers need to look at more than just fares.  The quality of the service needs to be factored in as with any product your purchase.

I wonder, is the service improving?