Already struggling with loss of ridership revenue due to the COVID pandemic, Now the HSR faces a big revenue hit from the loss of college and university student bus passes. Mohawk College has already formally requested to end its bus pass program and the HSR is bracing for similar action from McMaster and Redeemer College with news that classes this fall are moving to online. In all there are approximately 42,000 students who use the passes which are purchased out of annual student fees.
A staff report says the program generated $8,691,702 in 2019 and accounted for approximately 23% of total HSR ridership. The report notes that in 2019 the Conservative government implemented the ‘Student Choice Initiative’ (the “SCI”) to make ancillary student fees charged to university and college students optional despite lobbying by municipal transit agencies and the educational institutions.
The report says the loss of summer school fares alone will be $280,000, but the bigger worry is what happens this fall when students participating in classes from home. Its estimate the loss could be $3.7 Million. Worse, The reduction in ridership will have an impact on the Provincial Gas Tax allocation in future years and will be compounded by the reduction in gasoline consumption which effectively reduces the amount of gas tax revenue available. The money municipalities receive under the plan allocated is based on a calculation of 70 percent transit ridership and 30 percent municipal population. That could take a big bite out of the $11.4 Million Hamilton expected to receive this year.