Advocate says new fares could be tough on seniors

Victoria Transit Commission’s newest fare structure will keep the cost of single fares at $2.50

Victoria Transit Commission’s newest fare structure has been well received from most, but it has overlooked seniors, according to Isobel Mackenzie of the Office off the Seniors Advocate.

The commission decided to keep single fare fees at $2.50, though one option was to raise them to $3. It also removed the transfer, but kept the cost of a day pass at $5. It discontinued discount ticket sales to youth and seniors (up to 18 and over 65), which were purchased in sheets of 10 for $15, and the six- and 12-month youth passes.

The new structure takes effect April 1.

“Given the timing and the information in front of them, I think the [transit] commission made the best decision that they could to support seniors,” said Mackenzie in a statement.

Currently, only seniors with an income less than $17,280 are eligible for B.C. Transit’s Guaranteed Income Supplement, which costs $45 annually. But many Greater Victoria seniors live at an income level that isn’t much higher than that.

“My concern is that if your income is just one dollar over the threshold, a senior immediately must pay the cost of the existing monthly bus pass, which at current prices translates to $540 yearly, and that is quite a gap,” said Mackenzie, who is hoping for a more progressive approach.

Saanich Coun. Susan Brice, who chairs the transit commission, said if the commission is going to create a ticket option based on financial thresholds it will likely look beyond seniors.

“I would think over the next three years there’s a number of things, a lot of riders regardless of age with financial challenges. We may need an even broader picture.”

Saanich Coun. Dean Murdock supports the commission’s decision to keep the single fare at $2.50.

“I am pleased to see they didn’t go to $3 across the board. It’s the right decision there, but I am concerned with the cost of a transfer doubling for people on a one-way trip.”

Though it isn’t a great portion of bus users, there are people who will now be forced to buy a day pass simply because they are on a one-way trip that transfers buses.

“I believe it will discourage some from using transit for a single trip.”