September 20, 2020

BY SARA HANAFI

Oh good. Another fare hike.

Grand River Transit (GRT) has proposed an average seven per cent fare increase beginning July 1.

The news has upset frequent public transit users, especially since the GRT increased fares by nine per cent this time last year. Is there anyone who thinks a 16 per cent increase in two years is justified?

Students are particularly agitated by the increase since the college semester pass is being raised from $227 to $244. The cost of the student pass has gone up $40 in the last two years and students have not seen any service increases to any of the Conestoga campuses.

Conestoga Students Inc. (CSI), the student association at Conestoga College, has started a petition to show that students do not support the fare increase, and that the GRT shouldn’t even be considering increasing their fares unless they plan to improve their service.

CSI is planning on presenting the GRT with the petition, which they hope will adequately express students’ discontent with the service.

According to GRT, there are going to be service changes on some existing routes and one new route is to be added. However, none of them will benefit Conestoga students.

Anyone who regularly takes the bus would agree that their customer service is greatly lacking. More than 2,000 complaints from transit users made between 2006 and 2011 were about being left behind at bus stops.

In 2012, the GRT received 3,008 complaints, which is the highest number to date.

When the company improves its service, a fare increase will seem more justifiable. But in the meantime, upping the rates is just ticking off GRT customers.

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) falls in the same category as the GRT when it comes to multiple fare increases over a short period of time. The important difference between the two is that the TTC operates on a much bigger scale, yet keeps their fare increases to a minimum.

The last fare hike was a measly five-cent increase in 2012. That’s only 1.7 per cent.

If a transit system that serves 40,000 people daily (compared to the TTC with a whopping 1.5 million daily users) can’t keep their customers satisfied, an increase in fares shouldn’t even be considered until improvements are made.