Victoria’s seniors can rest easy for at least the next three years knowing that monthly transit passes aren’t going up in price.
Every three years, the Victoria Regional Transit Commission performs a fare review. One option presented this year would have seen the increase in price of monthly seniors passes. Seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie said that she was happy to see that option struck down.
“I was very pleased especially because there were seniors there, presenting to the commission,” Mackenzie said. “I think the commission saw that and made the right decision.”
Commission chair Susan Brice said they are always trying to find the sweet spot where they can charge enough to bring in revenue but still encourage people to ride.
“This year, we had three options to help us achieve our objectives,” Brice said. “And we ended up actually choosing a fourth option to go with.”
The changes, set to take place in April, include the elimination of bus transfers and multi-month youth passes but will see no increase in fares.
Mackenzie, who was on-hand at the meeting last week, said although this was a good first step, she is still concerned about the cost of transit specifically for low-income seniors.
Right now, the yearly cost for seniors to access transit is $540. Seniors with an income of $17,280 only have to pay $45 per year for bus access.
The discrepancy in income is one angle Mackenzie hopes the commission will look at for the future.
“Not all seniors have the same income. You could be making just over $17,280 and pay full senior fares,” she said. “What I have asked for is that they consider a graduated approach where you pay based on your income.”
Brice said this proposal would be something to consider for the next fare review in three years but noted that new programs like this often take an administrative toll. She also said that seniors make up only one group and that the commission has to look at their total ridership when making fare reforms.
One major change that will be initiated in April is the scrapping of bus transfers. This, according to Brice, will cut down on rider-driver confrontation.
“We’ve been hearing a strong message from our drivers that they want to see transfers eliminated,” she said. “Instead, you can buy a day pass for $5 which will be good for unlimited rides throughout the day.”
Mackenzie hopes that the transit commission reevaluates her proposed plan of a graduated fare increase and plans on working closely to see it implemented.