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Survey shows bus riders seek pass discounts

Nov 14 2012
Transit fare survey results. 

Transit fare survey results.

Photograph by: Graphics , Times Colonist

Bus riders young and old in Greater Victoria want more discounts when buying daily or monthly passes, according to public feedback collected by B.C. Transit.

Preliminary survey results of a transit-fare review show 43 per cent of about 1,000 respondents want to cut costs for longer-term passes for youth and seniors, while increasing individual cash fares for both groups, to $2.50 from $1.65.

Of the four fee structures being considered, that option would require the greatest annual increase in property owners' transit-related taxes, at 8.1 per cent. Sticking with the status quo would result in an 8.4 per cent increase.

Board members had little to say about the preliminary results, saying they wanted to wait until a full report on public feedback is presented at the commission's Dec. 4 meeting.

"Most important ... is to understand what goals we're trying to reach under each option," said Dean Fortin, commission member and Victoria mayor.

"Are all these going to give us financial security? Is that our only goal, or is this about increasing ridership? ... Because when I start doing any analysis, I need to put that in my mind."

Adult cash fares over the next three years could rise or stay at the current rate of $2.50, depending on which option the Victoria Regional Transit Commission selects next month.

The popular third option - with the backing of 43 per cent - is the only one that proposes keeping adult cash fares at $2.50.

All three other options propose increases to $2.75 or $3.

Option three also suggests dropping the price of an adult day pass from $7.75 to $5, the largest reduction proposed for that category.

Survey results show option one as the second highest in popularity among respondents, with support of 37 per cent.

That option includes a $2.75 fare for adults and $2 fare for seniors and youth,

with a decrease in day-pass rates and no increase for regular monthly passes.

Option one would also generate more revenue than option three, B.C. Transit reports.

The least favourite option, number two, calls for increases in nearly every category except for day passes, and would result in the second-lowest hit to property tax increases at 7.4 per cent.

Fees for adult day passes in option two would drop to $6 from $7.75, while youth and seniors would pay $4 instead of the current $5.50 for a day pass.

The even-dollar cash fare "is more user friendly" and should result in fewer fare disputes, according to a B.C. Transit staff report.

Transit received more than 1,000 survey responses, 64 emails and 28 phone messages during its public consultation between Sept. 20 and Nov. 9.

The Chamber of Commerce groups now have until Nov. 30 to submit their feedback before final results are presented to the commission.

dspalding@timescolonist.com

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