For Frequent, Electric, and Fare- Free Transit

Last year (2021), HSR revenues were about $27 million. As a COVID year, this number represents a roughly $11 million loss from previous years. So, how do we find the close to $40 million dollars that going fare-free and electric would require?

Consider these viable sources:


  • Orangeville is going fare-free starting in 2023. They will be covering the costs by receiving increased gas tax transfers from the provincial/federal governments which are tied to increasing ridership. They expect a 25% increase in ridership once they go fare-free.

  • Gas tax transfers are funds provided by the federal and provincial governments intended to improve transit. However, Hamilton currently uses the vast majority to pay for road maintenance, when other cities are not doing this.

  • We need to free up this money and use it as intended. This could include upgrading the HSR to a fully electric sytem, expanding service and going fare-free.


  • Area rating for services in Hamilton started in 2001 to deal with taxation after amalgamation. We are the only city in Ontario that continues with an area-rating pay system for transit.

  • Currently, the area rating system means that the richer suburbs of Ancaster, Dundas, Stoney Creek, etc. pay fewer taxes to transit. Area rating for transit must be cancelled in order to properly fund the HSR, expand the service, increase frequency, and make it fare-free.

  • Learn more about area rating for transit in Hamilton on the non-profit group, Environment Hamilton's website.


  • Millions of dollars in HSR fare revenues are immediately spent on the adminstration and labour required to collect those fares. Almost 9% of HSR revenues go to the province to pay for Presto alone.

Some more ideas to investigate:

  • Increased parking fees. Hamilton's parking charges are some of the lowest in the country compared to other urban centres.

  • Red light cameras in Hamilton are starting to generate a viable source of funding.

  • A portion of Hamilton's Police budget of $172 million a year could be reallocated to transit.

  • The HSR currently receives no money for advertising (advertisers currently provide shelter maintenance ). Advertising could be a healthy revenue stream for fare-free transit.