Free Rides for All: Transit Mismanagement

On Friday, I rode the bus four times and paid for one ride. On Saturday, I rode the bus two times and paid for one ride. The ticket machines either weren’t working or wouldn’t read my 20 ride adult pass.
I took four different bus routes. So this isn’t a problem with the ticket machines on one route or one bus.
This is a systemic problem affecting the entire Sault Transit system.
Each ride I took was a different bus driver. So I am assuming it was six different buses.
I moved to the Soo in mid-September and use the bus as my primary transportation. My girlfriend and I moved all our stuff in 5 suitcases by airplane.
Often the ticket machine doesn’t work for the multi-ride passes such as the 20 ride adult pass and the 6 or 12 ride senior pass.
Since arriving in the Soo, I cannot say exactly how many times the ticket machines weren’t working. But, I’m confident the ticket machines weren’t operating at least 30% of the time (probably closer to 40%).
I am using my fourth 20-ride pass and the ticket machine doesn’t work at least 30% of the time. This malfunctioning ticket machine means I’m only paying about 70% of my bus rides.
As of January 1st, the pricing is:
An individual ride costs $2.95 if you don’t use a bus pass.
Let’s look at the money lost with the 20 ride adult pass only working 70% of the time.
A 20 ride adult pass costs $47 or $2.35 per ride. Only paying 70% of the time equals $1.65 per ride ($2.35 x 70% = $1.65).
If the City is making $1.65 per ride. Why not fix the machines and reduce the bus fare? Most people using the transit system cannot afford a car. It is their mode of transportation. Why not help those less fortunate in our city?
I have not purchased a monthly pass because of the broken ticket machines.
The monthly cost is $68.50 but if I’m only paying $1.65 per ride. I would have to use my monthly pass 42 times to break even at $1.65 per ride ($68.50 / $1.65 = 41.6 rides).
If I purchased a monthly pass and compared it to the cost per ride of the 20 ride adult pass. I would break even at approximately 29 rides if the ticket machine worked ($68.50 / $2.35 = 29.1 rides).
That’s a big difference between 42 rides and 29 rides!
Don’t misunderstand my point. I like the bus system. I can get anywhere from my place within 15 minutes. Which is fantastic!
I’m very impressed with the Sault Transit System compared to other cities I have lived in. It’s better than Toronto, Miami, and Barrie.
I attended journalism school in London, UK. The London system is better and one of the best transit systems in the world. The train system reaches all parts of the city. The buses have their own lanes in most of the city. The London transit system is very well thought out and charged me for each ride.
My issue with the Sault Transit system is not being charged for each ride.
We all pay taxes to the City. Whether directly through property taxes or indirectly through rentals.
Transit is one of the biggest expenses. We spend almost $6.5 million on transit! All Sault taxpayers should be enraged at this clear mismanagement.
Is the City going to continue to throw away money with dysfunctional ticket machines? Or will Mayor Provenzano and City Council respect the Sault taxpayers and fix this issue?
How much would it cost the City to fix the ticket machines compared to all the revenue they are losing!


  1. Ridership would soar if buses were free, driving would decrease, drunk driving would go down, students and visitors would have a far nicer time here, and the whole experience would be better. Look at it another way: taxes per Saultite for the *entire* bus system is $87 per year, or $7.22 per month! If I were to use the bus 3 times a month, and I can certainly think of times I would, I would get my money back.

    • I’m not paying for your bus rides tyvm. If you can afford to can afford a cab. I’m not paying for others irresponsibility. Tou sound like someone who has nothing more than willing to spend from the ones that do something with thier lives.

    • Where I’m from bus fare is free after midnight.
      Keeps people walking home from late shifts in dark areas so they’re safer and has shown a significant reduction in impaired driving. When people drink or smoke they don’t execute logical decision making and taxis can be all booked sometimes.
      But I guess that would also take a transit system that was already designed well and thinking not left back 40+ years ago.

    • John Baird I am from there I know all about the issues with Presto (I have had quite a few free $20 bus rides), however, this wouldn’t be presto it will be a different computer program so they might have more luck that is if the information I was given is even true I am kinda skeptical to believe it because it seems every other person in this city enjoys starting rumors.

    • Transit box replacements are in the budget sort of. Replacing the fare boxes are a “planned key project for 2020.” However, they are part of an 8-year plan that started in 2019. Replacing the fare boxes should have been a priority in 2019 not pushed to 2020. And the City even gives a score for “Risk of Not Completing Project in 2020” and the fare boxes are listed as possible not done in 2020. Two years of missed bus fares. Way to go City Council!

  2. Hmmmmmmmmm. The scammers are not going to like this being revealed. Looks cheaper than buying the bus passes that are provided by Social Services that are sold on various SSM FB sites.

  3. Welcome to the Soo Chris – I suggest you leave your perspective of logic & common sense at the city boundary, they’re incompatible with how the city works.

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