Western, LTC need to offer more

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Re: “Speak Up”
March 5, 2009

To the editor:
I will not be voting in favour of the bus pass; I figure I might as well write that at the start. I do this for two reasons: to show I will be one (of the few) who do vote and that the arrangement surrounding this pass is ridiculous.

I have criticized London Transit since I moved here in August from the Toronto area. It is slow, rarely on time, has infrequent/inconvenient stops and has routes I can barely fathom the reasoning behind. For a big city, with a high student population, London Transit is woefully under-equipped to deal with the needs of this city. Waiting 45 minutes for a bus on Oxford? That’s ridiculous. Yet there will be near empty Dundas buses passing every few minutes. I also needed to get this out of the way, as it all prefaces the core of the matter.

The eight-month bus pass, at a higher fee, is mind-boggling. Paying more money for horrific bus service? Not on my dime (hence the above). The eight-month structure, however, is what really gets my goat. Why can’t we have a full year of coverage? I presume because that would mean thousands of Western students would be busing about the town at will during the summer and the LTC can’t handle it. That’s not our problem. We’re entitled to getting around this large city and not being held hostage by a shoddy company unable to get its act together. If the increase in the referendum had four months added to the validity period, I’d be all over it. But, alas, it’s another five years of the same joke.

Back home in Toronto, my bus pass went from September to August. And you could feel free to opt out of it. What’s the benefit of this? Firstly, you can get around town 365 days a year. On May 1, students still need to get around. They need to get to school for certain reasons, to work, to go to friends’ houses or just to get groceries at the cheaper store down the street. LTC essentially forces those who live in the city and who don’t have a car to pay $300 over the summer to get around. That’s more than double the cost of the eight-month pass offered to Western students now. So what’s the deal?

Secondly, the ability to opt out is crucial. Some students live on campus and don’t take the bus more than $130 worth a year. Some students have a car and don’t need it. Some just walk, some carpool, etc. Why should these students be forced to pay? At York, they have tried to institute a mandatory TTC bus pass but it has consistently been rejected. Why? People with cars, who live nearby or those who bus in from out of town (not a case with London) did not want to pay for a pass they wouldn’t use. The same should be here. You can opt out of a health plan, why not the pass?

Maybe we need a year of not having a pass to shake things up. Maybe it will make the higher-ups look at how other schools run their passes and how much of a joke the LTC system is. The LTC can’t live without students, so maybe they’ll be more amenable if far fewer people use it over the course of a year. An ideal situation would be a year long, reasonably priced pass with a freedom to opt out and better LTC routing and scheduling.

But, of course, that would just be far too easy and convenient. What would the LTC and Western be without the headaches? I know I’d be a little scared.
" Andrew Gadsby
Faculty of Education

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