The Community Survey shows that an average of 87.5% of Phone and Computer respondents stated that they rarely or never use Transit services. Given that an average of only 6.5% of residents or 1404 people use the service often or always and our total population is 21,612 the cost per user is $1,110.67 which includes the value of the fare box. To calculate the cost of each of these poorly subscribed services we assume that those who identified that they used the service ‘Often’ or ‘Always’ represent the vast majority of users of the service. We then multiply the percentage this group represents in the survey population by Owen Sound’s population which is 21,612, according to Statistics Canada and divide it into the approved 2022 budget for the service. The results are shown above in figure 19.
Conventional Transit Service is one aspect of transportation services and for this discussion does not include the Mobility Transit Service. Although we don’t have the breakdown of transportation services it’s reasonable to assume that Conventional Transit Services form a large part of the budget. We see from figure 6 the overall cost of Transportation Services grew by nearly 80% during the study period (2011-2020). On top of this growth, the cost of this service increased by $504,248 in the 2022 budget for a total cost of $1,560,244. We also found that the taxpayer’s cost per ride went from $14.90 in 2021 to $23.49 in 2022 due almost entirely to anticipated reduced ridership. This makes Conventional Transit Service an obvious candidate for service reduction, elimination or a complete overhaul
A complete overhaul of Transit Services could make it, once again, a valued service that residents can rely on. The current routes and service times are useless to most residents. If we want to get commuters out of their cars and riding transit then we need 15 minute service during communing times. As well we need East-West routes so a hospital worker, for example, living on the west hill can easily take the bus to their job at the hospital.
With workable routes and rapid rush hour service the city could negotiate a contract with school boards to move Owen Sound students about the city before and after school at no cost to the student. The school boards would save money in lower transportation costs, the city would make money with the school board contracts, and the busses would be filled.
Alternatively, if Council does not have an appetite to turn Transit into a viable, valuable service, then it must be shuttered, since in its current state it is not valued and it would be cheaper to give seniors taxi vouchers.