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Transit officials, Hamilton councillors hope incentives will bring back HSR riders

Hamilton's transit union boss expects any shortage of drivers amid the passing of a vaccination disclosure deadline on Nov.1 2021 to be minimal. Global News

Children aged 6 to 12 will soon be able to ride the Hamilton Street Railway (HSR) for free with a PRESTO card, as part of a one-year pilot project.

That’s one of several incentives approved by Hamilton’s public works committee, as the city’s transit system tries to recover riders lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more: Most HSR routes resuming pre-pandemic service in September along with PRESTO price hike

“This is something that we’ve discussed previously with HSR,” says Ward 8 Coun. John Paul Danko, “to encourage the next generation of ridership.”

Danko says he’s hopeful children who take advantage of the offer will become “a customer for life.”

The HSR, pending council approval, is also poised to reduce from 11 to eight the number of weekly rides needed to qualify for its loyalty program as of Nov. 1.

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Read more: Hamilton’s transit strategy on pause due to COVID-19 uncertainty

Transit director Maureen Cosyn Heath believes the benefits of the incentives are twofold: “A, we’re providing benefit at a very difficult time for the community and B, we’re hoping to increase future ridership as recovery continues.”

The HSR is facing a revenue shortfall this year of $25.4 million, because of lost ridership due to the impacts of the pandemic.

The city says those financial losses that have been fully covered by the provincial government under its “safe restart” program.

Click to play video: 'Memorandum of understanding for Hamilton’s LRT signed at City Hall' Memorandum of understanding for Hamilton’s LRT signed at City Hall
Memorandum of understanding for Hamilton’s LRT signed at City Hall – Sep 22, 2021

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