OC Transpo has been under fire lately as their new budget confirmed a 2.5 per cent increase in fare prices over 2015. With videos going viral mocking the transit system for its poor service and high prices, it’s time to take a look into some of the factors that contribute to the price hike.
This is the most boring and also the most critical answer. Inflation describes the persistent rise in prices over time of all things and is mainly linked to a lessening in the buying power of the dollar. This happens and it’s no one’s fault – it’s just how our financial systems function. According to the Bank of Canada, the inflation rate over 2014 rose 1.47 per cent, accounting for over half of the fare increase of 2.5 per cent.
Ridership has been going down – and no one seems to know why
Since 2011, OC Transpo has seen a steady decline in ridership rates. While 2014 numbers outperformed 2013 ridership levels, this is the first time they’ve seen a rise in the amount of users in two years. Since 2011, the amount of rides given has decreased by over a million in each quarter, even though customer comfort and satisfaction rates are the highest they’ve ever been.
An OC Transpo report accounted for the loss by citing a reduction in the amount of government workers.
“Reductions in employment in the federal government have a strong influence on transit ridership as many workers employed in federal government jobs, which are primarily located in downtown Ottawa and Gatineau, are transit customers,” the OC Transpo report says.
OC Transpo’s fares are priced to account for 20 per cent of their revenue, so less riders means higher prices.
Buses use diesel
With gas prices taking a huge dip recently, many wondered how OC Transpo isn’t saving a huge amount of money. The answer is simple: they don’t use gas.
“Diesel prices have decreased over the past several months, but at a slower rate than gasoline. Transit has proposed a budget reduction for diesel fuel of $1.7 million in the 2015 draft budget based on a projected price per litre of $1.01 versus a budget price of $1.04 in 2014,” said Pat Scrimgeour, assistant general manager of customer systems and planning.
For events such as Winterlude, Bluesfest, Canada Day and New Years, OC Tranpo provides special routes, additional services or even free bus service so you can get home safely after that kiss at midnight. Over 2013, these events ran up additional costs of over $750,000 for OC Transpo.
While the bus fare hike is unfortunate, it is anything but unrealistic. So while the winter cold makes every minute that the bus is late feel like an eternity, remember there’s a reason why you aren’t calling a cab or driving your car home: the bus is still cheaper.