On Jan. 16, the students of McMaster voted in overwhelming support in favour of continuing the relationship with the HSR when it comes to the bus pass contract. The first round of voting had only 574 votes out of 7,231, not including abstentions, against any form of bus pass in the McMaster Students Union referenda. The Graduate Students Association had a similar result with only 18.3 per cent of students against their HSR referendum.
The result was the most expensive option available with the fall-winter and summer passes and expanded service of route 51 for increased frequency and later service. This was specified to be until 3 a.m. This is also what the level of service was prior to this new contract.
While the card used to cost $138.65 per student in 2015-2016 and $150.80 per student in 2016-2017, this continues to increase with the MSU agreement to $187.67 this year, $206.17 next year and $225.55 in the final year of the contract despite no additions being made to the level of service.
The card used to cost $182.70 in 2015-2016 and $198.66 in 2016-2017 for the GSA, and continues to increase to $232.70, $257.39 and $284.40 over the next three years respectively with the Presto integration included.
These costs might be justifiable if the service ever lived up to its potential. It does not take a trained eye to note the near daily outrage on Twitter or the lack of response about topics such as the operator shortage, busses, including the 51, skipping stops due to being over packed and inconsistent arrival times.
Students respect individual drivers, the GoFundMe campaign for “Friendly Frank” being the best example of this, but it is difficult to advocate in favour of the bus service as the level of service appears to be decreasing. This will only continue to be an increasing negative as the number of students increases at McMaster in addition to the costs.
It is difficult to put a positive spin on prices increasing $86.90 per MSU student and $101.70 per GSA student from 2015-2016 to 2019-2020. It is even more difficult to place pressure on the service with the hard commitment of a binding contract. This is a city-wide issue that has a great deal of influence on how McMaster students commute from any distance from the university, and one that will likely continue without external intervention or pressure. It would be a poor bet to hope for anywhere close to the same amount of student support in the future.