The fare box is not what’s preventing Sooke residents from taking the bus, says Mayor Tait. (file photo)

Victoria proposal to eliminate fees falls flat in Sooke

Mayor Maja Tait says poor service, not fares, hampers bus use

A plan, pushed by Victoria council, urging the regional transit commission to begin phasing out bus fares as a way to boost ridership has left Sooke Mayor Maja Tait questioning the wisdom of the strategy.

“Don’t get me wrong. I’m fully supportive of moving more people out of personal vehicles and into buses. I love the idea from that perspective, but I have some serious concerns about the fare proposal,” said Tait.

RELATED: SYSTEM ERROR CANCELS BUS PASSES

She said part of Victoria’s proposal, which would see fares dropped for everyone under the age of 19, sounds good until you consider Sooke does not have the number of buses or routes to accommodate the needs of local youth.

“We need more buses, more routes, and a bigger yard to accommodate the buses we need to make the service usable by our residents. If you eliminate the fare box and the millions of dollars that fare box generates, where does the money come from to improve the service?” asked Tait.

Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt said he favoured that the financing of the transit system should be shifted to the tax system.

RELATED: VICTORIA VOTES TO BOOT THE FARE BOX

“That’s easy to say when you’re in Victoria where, to begin with, it’s a very walkable community and where they have sufficient routes and buses to provide a good service. Maybe asking those taxpayers to fund the transit system works there,” Tait said.

“Are we going to ask Sooke taxpayers to pay more property tax for a system that isn’t giving them the same level of service? I don’t think so.”

Tait recounted how she used to take the bus into the town centre and then make the walk up Otter Point Road to Municipal Hall.

She found while the trip worked on the way into the office, she had to take two buses that travelled a circuitous route that took upward of 90 minutes to get her to her home.

“That just isn’t workable, and as much as I wholeheartedly support increased transit use, you have to have the service to make it viable for people to use it.”

She added that, so long as the routes and frequency of bus service remain as they are, she doubts that it’s really the fare box that is standing in the way of Sooke residents making the shift to transit.

Ben Isett, the Victoria counsellor who introduced the fare initiative, responded to Tait’s concerns, saying that what’s been lost is that he’s also calling for an improvement of transit services.

“I agree that services in Sooke and other smaller municipalities need to improve but the tax burden that would result (from the proposal to eliminate fares) is about the cost of one tank of gas,” said Isett.

“And even now, some elements of the regional transit services work very well.”

Tait also noted that Victoria’s proposal may be premature in that Sooke is in the midst of preparing a local area transit plan that will outline interim improvements for transit service and infrastructure over the next seven to 15 years. That transit plan will be incorporated into the district’s transportation master plan. Both these studies and their recommendations are expected to be completed in late 2019 or early 2020.

“This proposal will be coming forward to the (transit) commission in June where I’m sure there will be a fulsome discussion,” Tait said.

“There is good representation around the table to represent the needs of Sooke and the West Shore where, frankly, we have more need for transit improvements than they do in Victoria.”



mailto:tim.collins@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Bus crash survivor petitions Justin Trudeau to fix road where classmates died

UVic student’s petition well over halfway to 5k signature goal

Suspected opioid overdose likely culprit behind serious crash in Fairfield

Victoria paramedics give unconscious driver Narcan

Man faces 11 charges after accidentally discharges bear spray around Victoria cops

A Victoria man had a unlucky morning Wednesday after he accidentally discharged… Continue reading

Sooke council threatens to close long-time business

Driver’s Welding application for a temporary zoning variance denied

Lane closures in effect on Island Highway in View Royal

Expect delays on Island Highway from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sealand was much more than killer whales, says ex-employee

Former Sealasd trainer revisits Sealand of the Pacific in talk

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of September 17

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should the province step in to upgrade the road to Bamfield?

The death of two University of Victoria students on a bus bound… Continue reading

UPDATE: Police probe third threat against a Kamloops high school in eight days

Police have not released any further details into what the threat includes

Charges dropped against Mountie involved in shooting death of Surrey man

‘I feel like I’ve lost Hudson all over again,’ says mom

B.C. Interior caribou protection area big enough, minister says

Proposals sparked protest in Kootenays, Williams Lake region

Two B.C. women selected to compete on ABC’s The Bachelor

Mykenna Dorn and Alexis Thind will compete for bachelor Peter Weber’s heart

UPDATED: Hundreds gather to reflect and remember UVic students killed in bus crash

Campus community invited to reflect, support one another

Vaping-related illness confirmed in Ontario believed to be first in Canada

Middlesex-London Health Unit had no further details about the case — believed to be the first confirmed in Canada

Most Read