We seem to never get it right when it comes to transit. We keep throwing money at transit hoping that this will solve the problem. It doesn’t.
It is no surprise that some candidates as part of their election platform are talking about a transit master plan. This means another large expenditure for a consultant report that will be received for information purposes and gather dust.
How many of you know that in 2013, Council approved an expenditure of $19k on a consultant for a Cobourg Transit Review. What recommendations were implemented? You can blow the dust off this report and read it here:
You will see that many of the recommendations were never followed through.
The chart below shows how costs have risen significantly while revenue from passengers has remained flat, We are limited in the data we have access to and could only extrapolate from budget numbers, but the result would not change.
Revenues from passenger fares have remained flat while expenses grew 73%. Fares have remained the same since 2008 at $2.00, rising to $2.25 this year. Ridership has remained the same with no passenger growth. Complaints with the on-demand service are plentiful as some candidates have attested.
So, what can be done?
We know what should not be done and that is wasting more money on consultants to prepare a transit master plan that will go nowhere.
Fares must increase. Before 2022, there had not been an increase in fares for 14 years. The current fare structure needs to be reviewed and there needs to be an annual review of fares.
There needs to be a focus on controlling costs by reviewing what other municipalities have done. What are they doing to control rising costs?
As for making improvements to Cobourg’s transit system, ask your candidates when did they last use Cobourg transit. Have they ever used Cobourg transit? What about Town staff, including the CAO and Directors? What about the members of the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC)? Riding it once years ago does not count.
What about speaking to the drivers or the transit riders? Have they ever spoken to them while riding on the bus? What is their feedback?
Sending out surveys and soliciting feedback without speaking to riders in their environment is not public engagement. Town staff and TAC members should be riding Cobourg transit and soliciting feedback from those who use it regularly.
Engaging with the public that are using transit will yield more valuable feedback and suggestions for improvements than any consultant’s report. And it will only cost the $2.25 fare.