Transit fares to rise by 25 cents
When April 1 rolls around and Kamloops residents are told they’ll need an extra quarter to ride the bus, it won’t be an April Fool’s Day joke.
City council has approved a transit fare hike set to take effect on a prankster’s favourite holiday.
The increase means an adult cash fare will jump to $2.25 from $2, while senior and student fares will rise to $1.75 from $1.50.
Monthly passes will also see similar increases, with an adult pass set to cost $53, up from $48. It’s the first increase in transit fares in five years.
The fare increase will generate an estimated $172,000 in extra revenue in 2011 and $232,219 the following years, but could result in a four per cent decline in ridership.
According to a city staff report, transit operating costs have risen by 44 per cent since 2005.
The city is also being hit with an additional $600,000 in extra transit maintenance costs starting this year.
But, the move to raise fares didn’t come without debate and opposition.
Councillors Denis Walsh and Nancy Bepple both voted against the increase.
Walsh argued the change will be a burden to many who rely on transit and will curtail passenger growth.
“That’s a huge hit for somebody who is struggling as it is,” he said, noting the new monthly pass rate will cost the user an extra $60 a year.
Walsh called the increase a “double standard” when comparing the effort council has made to save
homeowners a similar amount on their property-tax bills in 2011.
Mayor Peter Milobar countered the city has continually added to transit service over the years without a fare increase, yet, at the same time, added two per cent a year to property-tax bills.
“I don’t understand how this isn’t fair,” he said, noting property owners are still picking up a share of the additional $600,000 tab in transit maintenance.
The new bus rate is comparable to that charged by similar-sized cities like Prince George and Nanaimo, which have set the adult transit fare at $2.25.
Along with the increase in fares, several other changes are coming to the transit system.
Council approved a change to its transfer policy that will now allow for two-way travel and transfers to take place at any bus stop.
The former policy allowed for only one-way travel and for users to transfer at designated transfer locations.
The city has also dropped requirements for ProPASS that will now allow employers with as few as three employees to take part in the program.
The former rules only made the pass available to businesses with 10 or more employees.
The city also approved an additional 2,500 hours of transit service; however, use for the expansion has not been determined.