KAMLOOPS – Ridership takes precedence over transit expenses, city council has decided, and as a result city staff will now put together a proposal on a fare decrease in an effort to help increase ridership in the city.
In an attempt to follow the goals of the Sustainable Kamloops Plan by increasing ridership, and answer the ever-present transit challenges, council is recommending transit fares decrease by $0.25.
Originally stemming from a directive from December 2014, staff researched the effects on transit if fares were to increase, decrease, stay the same or even if fares were free. Discussion of free transit did not get very far, as it was pointed out nothing was actually free. If fares were not paid by riders, the cost of transit would be paid by taxpayers regardless.
Transit’s biggest proponent around the table, Coun. Donovan Cavers, admitted in a perfect world he hoped that transit could be free. However since this was not a possibility, was the first to put his support behind a reduction in regular cash fares, the third of four options presented to city council at a workshop April 21.
Coun. Ken Christian is also in favour of decreasing fares but asked to have the option altered slightly — to $2 from the $1.75 presented in the report. Cash fares are currently $2.25 for adults and $1.75 for seniors and students.
He is in favour of option three, because, as the report pointed out, Kamloops’ discounted fares are the lowest among other cities in its tier. If this proposal is approved regular cash fares would decrease by $0.25 and discounted fares would increase by $0.25. Discounts on age-related fares will only be applicable on pre-purchased products like tickets and passes.
It was agreed it is not the responsibility of the bus driver to enforce fares. This option will see anyone paying with coins, regardless of age, pay $2.
The common line was a reluctance to increase fares, even if it was deemed necessary, without providing new services. BC transit has declared a zero budget, freezing all funding province wide for the next three years. Christian also pointed out, after three years time, when the city receives serviceable hours again, riders would have much less objection to an increase.
While there were some differing opinions in the room, Christian’s rationale won out and council agreed to have staff prepare a similar report exploring the modified option three, with a $2 cash fare. The report, and a council decision, is expected later in the year.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Dana Reynolds at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-819-6089. To contact an editor, email email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.