Extend my bus hours, please!

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

September 6, 2007 Ed Cartoon

Activist group Sensible Transit Only Please’s (STOP) Trevor Harris has proposed the London Transit Commission extend hours on bus routes Friday and Saturday nights.

While LTC Director of Transit and Planning John Ford suggests there are several funding issues, Harris contends the LTC should extend the Oxford West, Oxford East, Richmond and Dundas routes until 3 a.m.

There’s little doubt the extended service would be used by both students and London residents. Bar-goers are constantly looking for an alternative to cabbing home, and many late-night shift workers have difficulty getting home from work.

The initiative is therefore a logical issue to tackle, with a number of benefits.

In addition to providing better service to transit users, extended bus hours would assist in keeping drunks leaving the bars off the street, and prevent a number of students from walking home.

It’s not uncommon for students to hike back to campus from Richmond Row to save the 10 bucks a cab would cost them, and there’s always a safety concern when inebriated students walk an hour in the dark.

As well, bus availability should prevent students from drinking and driving. Bar patrons will be much less inclined to drive to the bar knowing they have an alternative to cabbing, walking or driving home.

Of course, there is a cost attached with increased service. In order to lengthen hours on Fridays and Saturdays, London Transit would likely need to either increase the cost of fares or cut service to other routes.

The cost increase shouldn’t be overbearing, though, and it pales in comparison to the price of cabs. Most students don’t even notice the cost of the bus pass included in their student fees, and likely wouldn’t feel the difference given the high costs of tuition.

There is also a safety concern with a high volume of drunks taking the bus. Fights could break out with the bar atmosphere continued in a confined space and drivers might have difficulty dealing with drunk riders.

These issues can likely be resolved, though " London Transit has provided extended hours during New Years before, and it worked logistically. Another solution could be to permit bus drivers to refuse service to the most intoxicated riders, like cab drivers do.

Ultimately, there are a number of issues regarding price and safety, which both STOP and London Transit need to address.

The benefits far outweigh the costs, though, and extending hours to weekend routes is a good idea.

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