Students call on province to fix transit crisis

Late-night busing may have been saved from the chopping block, but James Coccolo believes it still needs a champion in light of B.C. Transit’s current financial troubles.

“We are … aware that it is a costly service and so we are worried that in the future they will cut it,” said the chair of the University of Victoria Students’ Society. 

Late-night service was brought in last fall – and it’s the reason why Coccolo is echoing recent demands made by the Canadian Federation of Students in B.C. for the province to address transit woes in Victoria. 

B.C Transit’s problems came into the spotlight last week when the Victoria Regional Transit Commission approved a $28 transit tax hike, effective May 15.

“Had they not funded anything, it would have set transit back to 1995 in terms of hours,” Coccolo explained, “so really the decision the (commission) made saved transit in Victoria and they deserve credit for that.”

Without provincial assistance, 7,000 service hours will be slashed from some bus schedules this summer, which “may jeopardize access to public transit for students who are already struggling to make ends meet,” the student federation said in a release. The organization is comprised of 150,000 students from 17 university and college student unions in B.C.

Coccolo said one solution may be raising the gas tax to give B.C. Transit in Greater Victoria a larger funding share. That might help safeguard services such as late-night busing, which may be pricey but offsetting late-night security costs downtown.

“It’s certainly an investment and something worth the money we pay for it,” Coccolo said.

emccracken@vicnews.com