June 25th, 2018

On essential infrastructure

By Letter to the Editor on September 6, 2017.

Without inside knowledge of city finances and policy planning I am left to frame my thoughts as questions. What is infrastructure? What is essential infrastructure? Libraries? Museums? Recreational facilities? All very necessary but not essential.

Mass transit? For some it is very essential. Why is it losing money? Can its losses be absorbed by profits from non-essential services? Low ridership? Would lower cost-per-ride increase usage and potentially profits? Would smaller buses for evenings and weekends work or changing half-hour pickups to one hour?

I’m sure lots of ideas were discussed but there must be a better way than just reaching for the scissors when you see red on the bottom line. Two things bothered me when discussing the issues with a transit manager at a recent open house.

The first, she had no issues with me walking over a mile to the FLC for pickup and another mile home on a wintery Saturday over snow and ice in -30 C weather on aging knees. Do I use the bus on Saturdays? Well, I did.

Second, she couldn’t understand that paying more than $70 a month for a pass with a reduction of eight days and 30 evenings wasn’t good economics. I’ll pass on the pass.

Now, to be honest, there were also some changes that I did like and I think will work well. But let the users decide, not those that stress about profits and margins. Now I have paid city taxes for almost 40 years and if I saw just one rider on a bus at 9 p.m. and I felt if it was important for that person to get where they needed, then it was important to me. That is the bottom line of essential infrastructure.

Ken Arnott

Medicine Hat

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