It should come as no surprise that as Metrolinx, the Provincial Transit agency moves to what they call an ‘integrated fare system’ among the transit systems from Oshawa to Hamilton, it is going to have an impact on Hamilton transit users.
Of course, every transit system has their own fare structures, and Hamilton’s transit fares are among the lowest, but that’s likely to change.
Even the cost of the Presto system, which allows for integrated travel between transit systems will almost certainly increase.
None of this is carved in stone yet, but it appears that Metrolinx is floating some trial balloons about price increases to ease the sticker shock when we see how much this Regional Transit Plan is going to cost us.
The price increases, when they come, will present a financial conundrum for City Council.
Will higher transit fares reduce the projected ridership of the LRT system ?
That’s exactly what happened to the much sought after Pearson To Union system in Toronto.
Or, does City Council subsidize transit users to keep fares low ?
But that could create a larger tax burden for all Hamiltonians.
We know historically that each time there is a transit fare increase, ridership has gone down.
The challenge for City Council is to make sure that doesn’t happen again.