Transit eyes hike to senior, youth fares

Victoria Regional Transit survey underway until Nov. 5

A raise in senior and youth bus passes is likely on the way.

The Victoria Regional Transit Commission’s triennial Victoria Fare Review Survey, which seeks public input until Nov. 5, proposes an increase in both the senior and youth 10-ticket books from the current $15 to $22.50 or $23. Senior and youth monthly passes will jump from $45 to $52 or $65.

Saanich Coun. Susan Brice chairs the commission and reminds users that the fares will lock in for three more years.

“We have three revenue streams and the fare box is a pretty important one,” Brice said. The other streams are portions of gas tax and property tax.

Saanich Coun. Dean Murdock expressed concern with the new fare structure, especially with the youth passes.

“The incremental changes add up,” he said. “You want to demonstrate transit as a viable option, otherwise you’re in danger of having the younger generation growing up with a belief that transit is not affordable.”

The mandated review proposes three options in total, each with specific fare structures that will remain similar.

There is a call in Option 3 to remove the paper transfer.

“What we’re hearing from operators is that cash and paper transfers are the greatest source of dispute that can turn into a negative contact so we’re trying to move away from those with prepaid passes,” Brice said. “And dealing with cash costs time and money.”

Eliminating paper transfers also moves to a pay-per-ride model which presents a greater likelihood that riders will need to purchase a second ticket in situations they previously wouldn’t have, Murdoch pointed out.

The other option is a day pass. Adult day passes would remain at $5 in Option 3.

One of the only single-fare increases in price is a jump from $2.50 to $3 under Option 1.

The current adult monthly pass of $85 will remain the same, as they were raised three years ago.

The survey is online at bctransit.com/victoria. Feedback may also be submitted by phone, 250-995-5683, or email at fareproposal@bctransit.com. There’s also an open house for the survey at BC Transit’s office (520 Gorge Rd. East), from 3 to 5 p.m. on Nov. 5.