By James Matthews
The current billing rate for Haliburton Bus Lines has rendered the venture unprofitable.
That’s the message the bus operation’s owners brought to Dysart township council June 13 when its proprietor asked to increase its hourly rate to $25 effective July 1.
An annual cost of living increase to the rate was also requested.
The DYMO Bus travels to five areas within Haliburton County and can do specialized prebooked trips to Lindsay, Peterborough, Bracebridge, Barrie, Oshawa, Toronto, and Kingston. It also provides long-term care facility and medical transfers.
The service was launched in 1989 and turned over to the municipality. Then, in 1991 through NorthernWays Transit Ltd., an agreement was made with Dysart to take over the daily operation of the bus.
In 1991, the service rang up $15 per hour.
An increase was requested in 2008 to $18 per hour. By that time, operators had assumed control of invoicing and dispatching of the bus, aspects of the operation that was previously handled by Home Support Services.
Dave Freeman, the bus line’s operator, said the billing rate was increased to $19.50 per hour in 2020.
“Now I’m before you again today in 2023,” he said. “We’ve found ourselves in a position now where the operating costs for us, we’re paying the driver $18 an hour and at $19.50 an hour we’re actually going backwards.
“Although I have strived to provide the service at the lowest possible rate, we cannot continue to do it at a loss.”
Wages have since increased so that more money is spent than what the operators have been billing, Freeman said.
Going from $15 to just $19.50 in about 30 years simply doesn’t keep up with the times when the cost of living has increased in that time by 93 per cent.
“So we really are kind of behind the times with this,” Freeman said.
“What do you do besides operate the bus?” Mayor Murray Fearrey said. “All the expenses are on us (the township).”
“All the expenses are on you,” Freeman said. “(We) provide a driver, keep it (the bus) clean, through COVID there was also the extra cleaning, dispatching of it (the bus), and invoicing of it.”
“I think it’s reasonable, with the times,” Fearrey said. “Really, to have somebody look after it. Keep it clean. That’s pretty important to us. I don’t know who else we’d have to do that.”
By James Matthews