Hamilton City Council Should Hold EMERGENCY Meeting on the State of the HSR
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If you're a rider of the HSR or a citizen of Hamilton than you know the public transit system in our city is in a crisis. According to The Hamilton Spectator 780 hours of service during the week of October 22, 2017 was canceled while the week of November 26, 2017 saw 310 hours of canceled service. This is thousands of hours per month of canceled service over the last few months alone. The Spectator also reports driver absenteeism is around 18-19%. Even if you're not a rider of the HSR but a taxpaying citizen of Hamilton, you should be outraged.
Everyday buses are canceled leading riders to getting to school, appointments, or work late. Riders are spending less time at home with their families as they're getting home late or having to leave home early to account for cancelations. Some buses that might run every 20 minutes during peak periods might run every 40 minutes leaving riders out in the cold. No rider should have plan daily for buses along their route to be canceled but this is what is currently happening in Hamilton. Buses are now more crowded than ever leading to rider frustration. Some city councillors are hesitant to inject further tax dollars as a result of declining ridership but none seem to understand riders who have some extra room in their budget are now seeking alternative methods of transportation to avoid being left in the cold or having to ride buses at capacity which will lead to even lower ridership. Other times (and several times a day along HSR routes) delayed buses are driving past passengers altogether leading to riders getting to their destination even later. Mothers with strollers and riders in wheelchairs or other mobility devices are unable to board the bus due to the lack of room on a delayed or overcrowded bus.
The majority of city councillors admit to not even riding the bus therefore lacking firsthand experience of the thousands of passengers who ride the HSR every single day. Very few city councillors want to even discuss the state of the HSR because it is embarrassing and a black eye to our city and our transit system. HSR claims they've hired more drivers and have purchased new buses and are working to resolve these issues. It's going to take more than this!
On December 18, 2017 Hamilton City Council will be holding a special meeting to discuss and decide whether or not the HSR should spend millions of dollars operating the LRT. While I hope the HSR will be better by the time the LRT is operational, this is the wrong time to be having this discussion.
Rather than City Council talking about the HSR in piecemeal at various meetings, I am calling on Mayor Fred Eisenberger and all of Hamilton City Council to hold an emergency meeting on the state of the HSR to discuss the crisis that has lasted months (with no end in sight) to implement immediate solutions and to hear from riders directly affected by canceled and late buses. The Mayor & Council could also decide to expand the scope of the upcoming special LRT council meeting to discuss the HSR crisis. Riders need to begin speaking up by letting Hamilton City Council know that enough is enough and that its time to adequately fund and fix the HSR!
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