Raise in fares for City buses will be on 2015 council’s agenda as cost of operation goes up

Cost trend for buses is heading up. (City graph)

Cost trend for buses is heading up. (City graph)

NEWS/ CITY HALL — Selling passes to specific neighbourhoods and increasing advertising on buses were among the ideas councillors came up with today as ways of dealing with escalating operating costs for the city’s bus system.

But by the end of a workshop they were leaning to the more traditional method — increasing fares.

City council discussed the problem during a morning workshop after receiving a staff report that showed service levels up, ridership up, but costs going up even more.

The report offered two options on fares: keeping the current fare at $2.25 but eliminated discounts for seniors and high-school students.

The second option would raise regular fares from $2.25 to $2.50 and discount fares from $1.75 to to $2.25, bringing them closer together.

It would see a higher initial decline in ridership but would bring in about $290,000 in added revenue annually.

Consensus landed on the second option. There was some disagreement on when the changes should be made, but council settled on having the matter brought forward for a decision late next March or early April.

Coun. Donovan Cavers said most conflicts between bus drivers and passengers are caused by disagreements over fares. “Most of those are related to drivers having to enforce difference fares. They already have a stressful job.”

But after initially favoring the first option he said he was OK with the second, suggesting it be put into effect in September 2015. He also felt the ProPass for businesses could be marketed more, noting it only accounts for two per cent of fare revenue while the U-Pass for university students is 26 per cent.

He suggested passes could be marketed to Royal Inland Hospital staff or riders from other specific areas.

Coun. Arjun Singh proposed marketing under-utilized routes to bring up ridership, Coun. Marg Spina wondered about selling more advertising on buses, and Coun. Nelly Dever felt the “extremely low” U-Pass rates should be reviewed.

Mayor Peter Milobar didn’t see much value in getting more involved in advertising. “Advertising is a drop in the bucket,” he said. “I don’t think we’re needing to get knee-deep in how many ads they should sell inside buses.”

He also warned that the U-Pass is negotiated with the TRU Student Union and any changes have to be approved by referendum. Losing the U-Pass would cost 26 per cent of the City’s bus fare revenues.


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4 Comments on Raise in fares for City buses will be on 2015 council’s agenda as cost of operation goes up

  1. Peter Sharp // May 8, 2014 at 10:09 PM // Reply

    I’ll bet you that Donavan Cavers will not be p[lease about raising bus fares. After all, he ran for City Council on a platform that be was going to bring the fares down to a Tooney per ride. People who voted for him, believed him and he failed them! Considering that the City subsidizes our bus service to the tune of a couple of millions a year, he should have known better. He didn’t listen. He needs to learn to count to 5. That’s the number of council members you need on side before you can pass anything.

  2. Bob McLaren // May 7, 2014 at 4:52 PM // Reply

    Why are there “escalating operating costs for the city’s bus system”? There may be good reasons, but what, specifically, are they? “Escalating” sounds serious and, maybe, out of control. Will city Hall publish the reasons or must these reasons be pursued through freedom-of-information by individual citizens or groups?

    • Mel Rothenburger // May 7, 2014 at 6:58 PM // Reply

      Among reasons given by the City for escalating costs are fuel and tires (190 per cent) and insurance (220 per cent). In general, increases in ridership are not providing enough additional revenue (provincial and local taxpayers subsidize the system for the rest of the costs) to keep up — thus the likelihood of fare increases.

  3. lee kenney // May 7, 2014 at 8:25 AM // Reply

    Will we ever see City Council taking “selfies ” on the bus ?

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