Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bus Fare Increase in Kingston: The Unpublished Secret

I need your help. Please read this and then write the city of Kingston to complain in solidarity with the passengers who need to use the Access Bus.

There is an unpublished secret about a bus fare increase on transit in Kingston. On January 20, 2011 the EMC, a free newspaper in Kingston, published an article that said transit fares may go up. In the article it said the fare increases were being proposed, they had not been approved by council yet.

When nothing more appeared in the news, I assumed, incorrectly that council had vetoed the plan. The only reason I started to wonder about it was that a new sign went up in the Access Buses the other day and it said our bus fares will be going up to $2.50 on July 1, 2011.

Historically the fares for Access Bus only go up when there is a fare increase for Kingston Transit as well, so I searched the City of Kingston website and found nothing. I then phoned the city to ask and, sure enough, the fares will go up. She quoted the increased costs over the phone for each type of fare media so I wrote them down and put them in a chart for your perusal.

A chart to show the bus fare increases for each type of fare media.

Month

Access Bus cost
$2.25/trip

# trips

Forecasted cost
at $2.50/trip

January

$108.00

48

$120.00

February

87.75

39

97.50

March

78.75

35

87.50

April

78.75

35

87.50

May

150.75

67

167.50

June

123.75

55

137.50

July

85.50

38

95.00

August

130.50

58

145.00

September

162.00

72

180.00

October

141.75

63

157.50

November

211.50

94

235.00

December

180.00

80

200.00

Total

$1,539.00

684

$1,710.00



The fare increase is really going to hurt passengers who use the Access Bus because the majority are on a fixed income and can barely afford to survive as it is.

After reading these costs, I got curious and decided to see what it will cost me for next year if, in the unrealistic scenario, I were to take the exact number of trips each month on the Access Bus as I did last year. I based this on the printed manifest for Access Bus in 2010 that shows the confirmed number of trips I took with them last year.

My Confirmed Access Bus Costs for 2010

Fare Media

2009-2010

July 2011

% increase

Cash

Adult

$2.25

$2.50

11.1

Senior (65 and over)

$2.00

$2.25

12.5

Youth (6-18 years old)

$2.00

$2.25

12.5

Multi-ride Card (Reloadable 10-Ride)

Adult

$20.00

$21.50

7.5

Senior (65 and over)

$15.00

$16.25

8.3

Youth (6-18 years old)

$15.00

$16.25

8.3

My Tickets (Disposable 10-Ride)

Adult

$20.00

$21.50

7.5

Senior (65 and over)

$15.00

$16.25

8.3

Youth (6-18 years old)

$15.00

$16.25

8.3

Monthly Card

Adult

$65.00

$68.25

5.0

Senior (65 and over)

$44.00

$46.25

5.1

Youth (6-18 years old)

$48.00

$50.50

5.2

The Affordable Transit Pass

Adults

$44.00

$46.50

5.7

Youth

$33.00

$34.25

3.8

Seniors

$30.00

$31.50

5.0



To use take the same number of rides (684) on Kingston Transit, there would have been a choice of paying for:

68 multi-ride cards + 4 cash fares for a total of $1,472.00
12 Affordable bus passes for a total of $558.00, or
12 Full-priced bus passes for a total of $819.00

Naturally, on an ODSP income, I would choose to apply for, and use the affordable bus pass. I’d still like to know why Kingston created a discriminatory policy, when they created the Municipal Transportation Subsidy, because it only applies to those who can take Kingston Transit. The passengers who take Kingston Access Bus must pay way more than anyone else who takes transit, even though our fixed incomes are the same, or in some cases lower, than those who can take the conventional transit.

Please note the transit costs shown above are because for the first 6 months I was buying the subsidized bus pass for Kingston Transit so I could minimize my Access Bus use. The total cost, including what I paid for Kingston Transit, was $1,911.00.

I had to stop buying the discounted pass in August when a policy change gave the drivers the discretion to choose whether to pick up a wheelchair passenger at a stop where the ramp appeared to be too steep. After being left on the side of the road a few times and confirming the existence of a new safety policy with the transit manager, I had to give up buying the subsidized pass and go back to using the Access Bus full-time. I still buy the odd multi-ride card because there are times when I can use Kingston Transit, but because I needed reliable access to transit, I have more or less had to give up on taking them. A strong reaction to scent (it causes an asthma attack) doesn't help either because I am the one who has to get off of the bus.

The cost of the multi-ride card lowers the costs slightly but not as much as it used to. This is because,when transit revamped the subsidy program and expanded it to benefit youth, seniors, and those who had an income below the Low-income cut-off amount, but who weren’t on ODSP (Ontario Disability Supports Program) or OW (Ontario Works), they cut down on the number of choices for the type of fare media you can buy.

Losing the choice of paying for fewer rides on conventional transit had a huge negative impact on the costs for Access Bus passengers because our transit costs went up drastically. When I complained, I discovered, much to my chagrin, that I was the only one who complained so my appeal for justice and a less discriminatory policy was ignored completely. I cut off my cable and, for awhile, my Internet, and until I can get others to write letters and complain as well, I will just have to absorb the costs and try to learn how to manage with even less.

The rationale for not applying the subsidy to the Kingston Access Bus, according to the city, is it's a charitable non-profit corporation for which they have no contract, and therefore, no control.

If you agree this is a problem and is violating the Ontario Human's Right Code and the Accessibility For Ontarian's With Disabilities Act (AODA), please write the City’s complaints department at contactus@cityofkingston.ca and CC a copy to the mayor at mgerretsen@cityofkingston.ca

Thanks in advance for your support.

Please read my other Blogs:
Accessibility: http://wheelchairdemon.blogspot.com
Health Care: http://wheelchairdemon-health.blogspot.com

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