If you have been using the HSR for years, you know all about the deterioration in service levels. If you’re fairly new to town, however, you may not know that it wasn’t always this way.
Below is a summary of key points of a presentation made to the Steering Committee of the Transit Master Plan for Hamilton by the Amalgamated Transit Union.
HSR Service Levels
The service level on most routes is not adequate to accommodate current passenger loads. On some routes, passengers are often left behind to wait for the next bus, only to find that the next bus is full as well.
Ridership has gone up more than 20% in the last ten years. And according to HSR management data, the expected ridership growth over the next three years is 5% per year.
Maybe there will be room on the next bus, but don’t count on it.
Taking inflation into account, the City is funding HSR at $20 million less per year than in 1989. No wonder service levels have fallen so low.
– “Run time” is the scheduled time the HSR says it should take to complete a route. Operators are expected to meet run times and can be disciplined if they do not.
– But the run times on most routes are not adequate to complete the scheduled trips on time. Why? Because on most routes, run times have not changed in more than a decade, despite the following factors that have changed:
– In addition to increased general ridership, the number of “specialized” trips involving wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, etc, has increased dramatically in recent years. These passengers take five times as long to board and leave the vehicle, but no additional time has been allotted for them.
– Increases in use of strollers & buggies and the addition of bike racks.
– The extension of some routes to cover city expansions with little or no change in the scheduled run time.
– Many streets that were once one-way have been changed to two-way, slowing down traffic.
– Additional traffic and walkway lights have been added.
– Some streets have been narrowed to beautify the City. Great, but once again traffic is slower as a consequence and no additional time allotted for the route.
– HSR allows no time for delays due to fire, accidents, weather conditions, detours, construction, Operators’ need to use the washroom, etc.
Impacts of Inadequate Run Times
Passengers needing to take more than one bus are not making the scheduled connections. They must wait additional time to get next bus and are late arriving at their destinations.
This leads to increased frustration and anger which is too often downloaded on the Operators.
Increased stress levels and reduced morale.
Pressure to drive aggressively to make connections they can not make.
Verbal abuse by passengers from late-running buses.
Not able to take washroom breaks.
The Bottom Line
Greater Hamilton is a growing community. Transit must be expanded. But existing service deficiencies must first be addressed before the introduction of new routes and expansion of existing routes to new areas.
If your family is growing and you want to build an addition to your home, you should fix the leaky roof first!