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Students push B.C. on transit changes

Greater Victoria students are throwing their support behind the region’s municipalities who want greater control over B.C. Transit.

Both the University of Victoria and Camosun College student societies are urging B.C. Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom to give the Capital Regional District control of transportation planning.

“The biggest issue facing students in the transit system is students being left behind on buses both on and off campus,” said Lucia Orser, UVSS director of external relations.

Lekstrom appointed a review panel in March after complaints that the provincially appointed B.C. Transit board was making costly changes without consulting the communities, whose fares and property taxes cover more than half the cost of transit service.

He has promised to respond to the recommendations of the panel during the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference in September.

“The CRD has the ability to raise revenues other than from property taxes and fares, which is the (revenue) system B.C. Transit operates on,” said Madeline Keller-MacLeod, Camosun’s student society spokeswoman.

Bus pass-ups are still commonplace for more than 30,000 UVic and Camosun students that commute each day to and from campus, Keller-MacLeod said.

“It’s not just during peak hours, it’s throughout the day as well,” she added.

Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard has publicly stated the pooling of transportation budgets for integrated planning is the eventual goal of the CRD, a process that could take two years to complete.

“If the province gives the CRD transit, that’s the first step,” Leonard said.

Orser said environmental factors also weigh heavily on the student unions’ decision to support CRD control of transit planning.

“Transportation accounts for the largest share of greenhouse gases emitted in the Capital Region,” she said.

“If we are serious about transitioning off fossil fuels, we need to create local, livable communities that promote active transportation options such as walking, cycling and public transit.”

 

Keller-MacLeod said both student unions have requested a meeting with Lekstrom to express their support.

 

 

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