Bus transit in Regina

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Rising costs for what gain?

Buses will not run from midnight to five am. / Michael Chmielewski

Buses will not run from midnight to five am. / Michael Chmielewski

Using Regina’s bus system is about to cost citizens a whole lot more. The cost of a post-secondary bus pass will increase 47 per cent, from $53 to $72 over the next three years by about twenty per cent per year.

Brad Bells, Head of the Transit in Regina, explained the reasoning behind the transit hikes.

“Our fare structure and strategy with this rate system is to create a balance between who should pay. There is always the balance between users and subsidization through council and taxpayers.”

Bells went further into what this balancing would entail.

“Our revenue [to] cost ratio is a national benchmark tool that everyone uses. We’re at 37 per cent, Saskatoon is at 42 per cent, and the Western Canadian average is at 44 per cent. We are just trying to get more in line with the average.”

“The goal is to get to a place that is more equal for both parties. A large component of our customers are groups who don’t have other transportation options and at the same time they may not have high enough income to afford other options. Our pool is students and seniors and that, but we do think there has got to be a balance, and at the end, users have to pay a bit. We haven’t had an increase since 2010 and we’re trying to increase fares, but we’re trying to stay more within the market that we compare to.”

“We have some overall initiatives to expand service. But we, as one of thirty departments of the city fighting for the same tax base – administration and council have to make those tough decisions about where they are going to put those resources. We have recommendations to expand service on different subdivisions, and the timing of routes. Those things are on our radar. If we had a bigger pool of money we would tackle them.”

Non-riders may not be aware, but Regina Transit buses cease operations from midnight until five a.m and do not run at all on holidays – these can create very real restrictions on the mobility of Regina’s students, elderly, and poor.

“At this time, there is no plan to extend hours beyond what we have between midnight and five a.m. when we have no service. That would increase more costs and again the user or taxpayer would have to fund that. I hear what you are saying though. I don’t think that is just a student issue, that’s anyone on Dewdney Avenue or attending parties or whatever – you need to find designated drivers or a taxi service.”

Speaking with Bells, it seems as though his department is forced to compete with other departments for their share of the city’s budget, leaving bus riders at the mercy of council and committee. Students should be aware of the upcoming U-Pass referendum and should contact municipal elected officials and city administrators with concerns about the transit system.

Increases to student bus rates are accompanied by increases in tuition, rent, food costs, and other necessities and whatever luxuries one imbibes in, creating a situation that makes life difficult for the university student.

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