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by Daniel Gloade on June 24, 2013

As you are all aware, the good citizens of Kitchener will be getting a Light Rail Transit system soon.  Public transit solves two problems at the same time.  The first is traffic congestion.  The second is environmental concerns arising from automobiles.

There are some systemic problems with public transportation, however.  First, public transportation is environmentally friendly only if the vehicles are full of people.   Driving enormous, diesel-fueled buses all over town helps no one if they are empty.  Apart from morning and evening rush hour, I find that buses are almost always near empty.

The second problem with mass transportation is that people usually don`t like it.  Be honest, we all like the freedom of getting into our own vehicles at any time and park near our intended destination.  It is the lifestyle we want and expect.  It is easier to switch people from larger to smaller vehicles than to switch people from personal vehicles to mass transportation.

We assume that public transportation will be a great benefit to lower-income families.   The problem, however, is getting to the bus stop.  Homes and apartments near a bus stop are more expensive than those far from public transportation.  The very poor, however, cannot afford to live in these more expensive units.  They must either drive old gas-guzzlers that are expensive to repair or forgo employment opportunities.

If Kitchener is to get a return on its investment in public transportation, it needs to shuttle poor people to the nearest bus stop.  The city cannot operate its own shuttle service without offending existing taxi and limousine services, however.

I suggest program in which the poor can use a taxi to travel to and from the nearest bus stop.  The passenger can ask the driver to write on the receipt that he or she was driven to or from a bus stop.  The passenger can then submit these receipts to the city for a partial refund.  I believe that this arrangement will benefit everyone.  Perhaps the cab companies could subsidize these fares in compensation for the increased business.

I don`t know if this is pie-in-the-sky thinking.  As always, I welcome your ideas and comments.

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