University Bus Pass Bad News For Windsor

Header-image-TuomiBy Robert Tuomi

Too often, the once rosy city gets held back by things out of the control of the civil servants. But luckily, things change and the city stands to benefit.

Take transit. Please.

The local paper was all agog March 18 when it found out students at the university had agreed to have the cost of a bus pass baked into their sessional fees. Apparently transit manager Pat Delmore saw dollar signs.

Unfortunately, nowhere can it be found that Delmore is an accountant or even a university graduate. About all the city will say is he is a former coach operator; a possible upgrade from bus driver.

Delmore told the Windsor Star that he expects more people will be bussing it to the university and this, in turn, will result in a gradual expansion and improvement of service. While there might be more people on the buses, the transit service might well end up finding it itself losing money.

Right now, students can buy a bus pass for about $66 a month. Starting in September, they could pay that much for four months of service.

Quite the discount.

Delmore is apparently busying himself with plans to expand service from the downtown to the university campus. Students could be on the buses as late as 3 am on end-of-week nights. He could also dispatch buses to the VIA train station on Fridays and Sundays.

If this is such a good idea, how did the city manage without it before?

But, more importantly, how will the city make up for the loss of revenue? It just might be considerable.

An estimated 6,800 students will be paying for the passes. Those who commute from the county can opt out. Reports suggest Delmore could see about $1.12 million in revenue from the scheme.

But, with students paying a quarter of what they once paid, is he about to lose over $4 million?

Of course not. Not every student living in the city currently buys a bus pass. This means his loss might not be that high, but he might end up with more people riding the buses which will increase operating costs.

Packed buses use more fuel. Sebastian Blanco, in an report of October 29, 2009, reported that, “… for every 100 pounds taken out of the vehicle, the fuel economy is increased by 1-2 percent.”

Also, full buses increase road deterioration.

The Analysis of Transit Bus Axle Weight Issue, released in November 2014 by Winnipeg’s MORR Transportation Consulting for the American Public Transportation Association, said it is, “… particularly relevant for low functional road classes (e.g., collectors, local streets), which are less able to withstand transit bus axle loads than high functional road classes (e.g., Interstate highways, major arterials) …”

According to the December 2003 Study & Report to Congress: Applicability of Maximum Axle Weight Limitations to Over-the-Road and Public Transit Buses, “… a full bus, may impose three to five times the stress of an empty bus.”

The last thing Windsor needs is something to quicken the deterioration of its roads. If nothing else, the city should look at a streetcar between the downtown and the university. It could be cheaper in the long run.

There is also the issue of more pollution.

Buses with more riders will spend more time at bus stops. Delmore might even find himself paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in idling fines if his buses spend more than five minutes at a stop. Granted Delmore might have an offset in all of this. More riders could mean about $500,000 more in provincial gas tax money.

This seems a lot like typical city math. Lose $4 million to gain half a million.

It smacks of the mathematics of the International Children’s Games. On April 1, 2013, the local paper revealed the Games had a, “… $2.5 to $3 million budget. [Nora] Romero expects the area should see an economic impact of at least $2 million.”

Spend up to $3 million for an economic benefit of $2 million. Earn $1.12 million in revenue from students, but end up spending more to provide the service.

Robert Tuomi can be heard at noon every Thursday co-hosting Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor on CJAM 99.1 FM. Listen on demand to previous episodes or catch the discussion live and join in. It is also streamed online at CJAM.

About the Author

Robert Tuomi
After initially succeeding as a broadcast journalist and achieving senior level assignments, Robert branched out into marketing communications. As a senior executive, primarily in the high-tech industry, Robert created award-winning and comprehensive, multi-faceted initiatives to enhance sales and expand market awareness for some of the largest companies in their fields. Email Robert Tuomi

1 Comment on "University Bus Pass Bad News For Windsor"

  1. Robert another excellent article, as usual the city officials talk before investigating the cost to the city. How will they make up the $4 million dollar lost that is an easy one, raise the sewer waste fee.

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