Metro's long-awaited transit report was unanimously accepted by metro council Tuesday with what amounted to sober confessions of defeat.
"This is not the revolutionary report that the people expect or The Tribune has been clamouring for," complained Councillor Saul Cherniak.
"But after the hearings, I'm satisfied nobody has the solution to this transit problem that's going to be with us a good many years," he added.
Councillor Robert Moffat bitterly attacked the report for committing transit to a substantial but undefined subsidy from metro.
Other points in the report, which now becomes general metro policy, are:
The report comes out strongly in favour of a transit subsidy, after saying the annual transit deficit over the next four years could be anything between $500,000 and $3,000,000.
The decision not to increase fares came in for criticism from Mr. Moffatt. who said he wanted "to express my dissatisfaction with one of the major effects of this report."
"By accepting what we are accepting here in regard to transit," he added, "we are committing this area to a substantial subsidy."
He agreed in principle that transit should be subsidized, but he didn't like the "open-end" feature of the subsidy. The amount should be determined and transit should have to "carry its weight" from there.
He also argued that certain proposals in the report — like extending services, more bus shelters and the buying of new, expensive equipment — would increase costs.
Councillor Albert Bennett said he hoped the royal commission on municipal and provincial finances and taxation appointed last week would look into the transit problem.
And he hoped the metro review committee announced Monday would return the taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel t have a revitalizing effect.
Mr. Bennett said he had "nothing particularly constructive to say, however he felt it didn't particularly matter whether the bus fare was 14 1/2 or 15 1/2 cents.
An increase in bus fares would mean a big difference in the amount of subsidies but no difference in the amount of riders.
Council was afraid to add a cent to the buses, but was going to add it to the home owners' taxes, and "this I don't like."
Mr. Cherniak said he didn't think there was any justification whatsoever for saying that the planned program would increase the deficit.
Council had merely asked the committee to deal with some small matters to provide better service and increase income.
"I don't think we've come up with any revolutionary ideas," he added. "I haven't heard of any revolutionary ideas."
In its report, the special committee says it developed the theory that the benefits of transit service were not entirely confined to the users. Therefore there were grounds for assessing some part of the cost against the community at large.
The committee was of the opinion that revenues based on current fares would not be sufficient in the future to defray all costs of transit services required for the expanding metro area.
There was no doubt that a policy of drastically curtailing uneconomic transit services in low density areas and substantially increasing fares could place the transit system on a self-supporting basis.
"This would lead to a very considerable curtailment of the metro transit system and would greatly accentuate the traffic problem by causing further substantial shifts to private automobiles," the report says.
All of this would have serious repercussions on the economy of the metro area, and particularly on the central business district.
The committee warns that the "subsidy" policy should be pursued with caution, however.
"The corporation faces substantial costs with respect to its responsibilities for the future transportation requirements of this area for thoroughfares, bridges and other traffic improvements.
"The committee feels that some of the best overall results will be obtained if some of the money can be made available to the most efficient and lowest cost transportation, namely public transit."
A warning comes from the committee that property owners should not have to bear all the costs, and that there is a substantial need for greater recognition and substantial financial aid from the provincial government.
Also recommended are:
With regard to public relations, the committee recommends a continuing program of emphasizing the economy and convenience of "the citizens'" own transit system."