Police Chief’s Perspective on Student Bus Pass

From Chief Rob Davis to members of Council:

December 7, 2009

Hello to All:

At the council meeting of November 30th when budget cost cutting measures were being discussed, one of the proposals put forward by transit staff was to eliminate the U. of G. student buss pass and implement a new city-wide bus pass for all students with a different fee structure applied across the board.

In thinking about this proposal over the past week, I wonder if this proposal to eliminate the reduced fare bus pass for the U. of G. students may come with a few more negative points that may not have been considered.  As I understand it, every student at the U. of G. currently pays a set amount as part of their tuition for a discounted bus pass whether they use the bus or not.  So, a large number of bus passes are purchased on behalf of the students from Guelph Transit but many of them never get used.  The City gets all the revenue whether the students use the bus or not.  I would submit that many U. of G. students that do have the passes, are using them on the week-ends when getting home from downtown on the city busses.  We have found that having the extra busses to transport students between 12:00 midnight and 3:00 A/M has been extremely successful.   I’m afraid that if the passes for the U. of G. students are eliminated or the costs go up substantially, it would negatively affect the U. of G. ridership.  I’m not sure the student body would continue to support the student pass program as part of their tuition which in turn may end up being a loss of revenue to the city.  But more importantly, it could mean less students using the busses to get downtown and getting home again after a night out downtown because of the increased costs. More of them may revert to driving their cars downtown and home again after a night out drinking which is counter-productive to all of the attempts to keep them from behind the wheel.  And, those that don’t take their own cars will now be walking back up the hill to the U. of G. increasing the pedestrian traffic along Gordon St. and the U. of G. Neighbourhoods along with the likelihood of more noise, damage etc. that goes along with the trek back up the hill.  We get many complaints now from irate citizens that contend with this every week-end and I’m confident they would go up.

I know that you all have some very difficult decisions to make but I think some caution needs to be exercised with this issue. I thought it important to share my thoughts for your consideration.  Thank you and good luck with your deliberations.

Rob Davis – Chief of Police

Guelph Police Service

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