March 09, 2015 - 2:04 PM
KELOWNA - Council has agreed to raise transit fares in most categories in a bid to increase the amount of money recovered from riders.
Some councillors expressed reservations about the move, saying fare increases tend to reduce ridership but in the end all voted to approve the increase. The yes vote doesn't automatically mean the increase will go ahead as the transit partner communities in the Central Okanagan must also agree to the increase.
In a report to council, director of financial services Genelle Davidson told council Kelowna Regional Transit is slipping behind the target of 30 per cent cost recovery, a goal set by council in 2011.
Base fares for adults, students and seniors will be standardized at $2.50, which translates into a $.25 increase for adults and college students but a $.50 cent increase for seniors and student cash fares.
Children under five continue to ride for free. Ticket book prices are set to rise by $2.25, or 12 per cent although seniors and students will receive a discount. HandyDart services are set to rise approximately 12 per cent.
Day passes will be standardized at $6.50, an increase of $.50 for adults and a $1 for students and seniors. Monthly passes will also be standardized at $45, meaning an average increase of 15 per cent.
The UPass is set to go up to $70, an increase of $10 or 17 per cent although transit only retains $67 of that. Complicating that is a requirement for both the approval of the UBC Okanagan board of governors and a yes vote in a student referendum.
In her report, Davidson outlined the pressure the transit system is under to maintain a certain level of cost recovery, citing increased demand, expanded service and higher operating costs. Fare were last raised in 2012.
Davidson says conventional and community bus routes within Kelowna are averaging 28 per cent cost recovery, while routes in the partner communities of Peachland, West Kelowna, Lake Country and the regional district average 21 per cent. Transit in the Central Okanagan is delivered by contractor FirstCanada ULC, subject to the provincial authority of B.C. Transit, which also pays for almost 47 per cent of regular transit costs and 67 per cent of custom transit services.
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—Updated 3:10 p.m. March 9, 2015 with the results of the council vote.
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