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Public transit gets a bad rap

by Archives January 19, 2005

Here’s hoping the shuttle buses have their collective acts together because it looks as though we’re heading into a cold spell that could send students hailing from outside provinces running back to the warmth and security of their respective homesteads. Talk to some of them and you might be surprised how many would actually favour a reliable weather forecast to the opportunities that Concordia could possibly offer them.

This is in no way intended to dump on the shuttles or their drivers before they actually become deserving of it but let’s face it, at some point, the complaints will almost surely start filing in, especially if the -20 degree whether keeps up. Having already heard one account of a bus arriving about 45 minutes behind schedule, there might already be plenty of good reason for pessimism.

However, in a city with a subway system and bus routes that can get you pretty much anywhere you want in the country’s third largest metropolis, have we become a population of spoiled little transit brats? Consider how much we complain about the unreliability of the services the STM provides to us. There are those who have the bad fortune of getting delayed several times a week depending on what times they travel and what routes/lines they take. But there are those that could travel by transit two or three times a day and not get held up for months at a time.

Although individual transit experiences shouldn’t be based on the luck of the draw, the population at large needs to show greater appreciation for what they have and not complain so much about the yearly increase in tariffs. It’s especially disconcerting to hear the students that complain about the cost of a monthly STM pass in the city with the cheapest transportation in the country.

Even when combining the cost of our relatively low tuition and the purchase of a pass every month, we’re still ahead of the game when compared to other cities where costs are higher and services are not as diverse (i.e. subway and bus) as they are here. Rarely would going downtown be considered too great of a hassle, with the exception of those residing in the West Island, the East End, or similar areas. And even in those cases it’s still within a reasonable time frame.

There are those who would contend that it’s unfair for transportation costs to rise due to the construction that is being done to extend the orange line to Montmorency. “Why do we have to chip in for that? The city should pay for it,” is what some say. Well, this is what we call ‘give and take’, no one ever said the subway system was a gift of the city to the people, although maybe it should still be considered as such.

It’s true that the construction of a subway line that reaches out further that the immediate area will serve a fewer number of travelers to begin with. However, when taking into account the effects that urban sprawl will continue to have on those areas, the more they need to be considered deserving of the same privilege as the rest of us.

Even students that live on their own or with a couple of roommates should be able to make the financial expenditures. Working that extra job to pay off living expenses and taking out a loan for school are very serious inconveniences. But these are inconveniences that so many of us face it’s hard to start feeling too sorry for ourselves.

Furthermore, when taking into account the financial obstacles faced by those in other provinces, how can we justifiably claim any grievance in being asked to help contribute to the bettering of our transportation system? Where the money is being allocated could be debated, but until proof is available we’ll assume that all is legit.

So, while I may soon be joining the droves out there cursing our shuttle bus system while steadily losing feeling in my limbs, I won’t turn my back on the STM anytime soon.

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