HSR has struggled for years with virtually no growth, but could look down the highway to the transit innovations of another older Ontario city that is making giant strides. By utilizing multiple methods Kingston has jumped its bus ridership by 80 percent in just five years.
It began in 2013 when Kingston began providing free transit passes to grade nine students and then taking a bus to each high school to provide instructions on how to use it, how to load bikes on it, the routes and other features. The next year’s grade nine class got the same transit education and free passes.
Now after four years all secondary students have free passes for the full school year. In Hamilton, elementary and secondary students are charged $88 a month for a bus pass. In Kingston children under 14 years of age ride free. A similar step has also been adopted in Toronto and is being kicked around by Hamilton council but not yet approved.