A very confusing portrait recently painted by a CBC Hamilton article needs some addressing.
In the article they stake the claim that Hamilton's ridership growth percentage is directly related to the need for LRT in Hamilton. As such, it would seem as if they are making the claim then, that based on Hamilton's growth numbers, our city may not need an LRT after all-- or at least that it is a lot less justified in having one than some others in the province may be.
Let's dig into that a little bit.
The article compares Hamilton in a chart to cities such as Ottawa, pictured below:
This comparison made me a little sceptical based on the numbers presented as they were-- and so I did some further research into them-- and interestingly enough I stumbled upon this article published in the Ottawa Citizen in June of this year. Within the article the Ottawa Citizen reports, quite contrarily, that
Ottawa Transit has actually lost 5.5% of its transit ridership.
That's right, lost.
Further, this is actually the third-straight year in a row that it's shed riders.
This is the kind of information that the chart CBC Hamilton utilizes fails to show.
But, to be clear, the point of my writing this article isn't to stomp all over Ottawa Transit's ridership levels.
Brampton's Transit Ridership
Let's take a quick look at Brampton's Transit Ridership from 2013:
Their growth for the year of 2013 is significantly lower than past years, 5.6%, compared to previously phenomenal double-digit percentages for the past three years -- and is, apparent from the data available-- looking to stay on track to repeat a much lesser growth performance this year too.
And yet, amidst this- there's a funny thing about both Ottawa and Brampton, while one is suffering from lowered ridership and the other from significantly lesser growth than prior years; they're both still building LRT lines.
I'm not going to try and draw a direct comparison between the dynamics of Ottawa, Brampton and Hamilton-- all have their own nuances as cities and communities-- but even so the question still arises:
Does Ridership Matter?
I believe that Ottawa and Brampton are proof that it does.
Because they understand that ridership is about more than just how many sardines you've got in a can.
It's about quality of service, It's about efficiency, It's about appeal. It's about increased quality of life, It's about increased comfort. It's about an investment in people, It's about an investment in infrastucture, It's about an investment in Hamilton.
It's about an investment in ridership. Because ridership- the ridership- Matters.
And if you invest in ridership- the ridership-, they will come en masse.