Thursday, September 11, 2008

No change for the cashbox for now for Prince Rupert Transit

Prince Rupert City council withdrew its plans to increase bus fares in Prince Rupert as they feared that their original plan may detract from their very own Green initiatives.

With council refusing to pass the third reading of the proposed changes, the issue now returns to staff for revision and a possible re vote in October.

Councillors will try to come to a consensus on the fare issue, trying to provide proper funding for Prince Rupert Transit, while at the same time staying true to their plans in the city's green initiative.

The Daily News outlined the details behind the reversal in Wednesday's paper.

Green concerns drive the debate over bus fare hike
City councillors decide not to raise the cost of riding transit
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Page Two

City Hall has reversed its plan to increase the cost of bus fares in the city during a third reading of a resolution in council on Monday.

A motion that council adopt a bylaw to set the Bus Transit Fares to offset the rising fuel costs was shot down by councillors because it was incompatible with the city's green initiative and did not include college student day pass discounts as a part of the package.

Two councillors voiced their concerns with the planned increase. Councillor Kathy Bedard said that the city had overlooked college students in its planning while councillor Joy Thorkelson asked if there was value in raising the prices at all.

"All I'm wondering about is why are we doing this? The students are already paying a $1.25 and seniors are paying a $1.25, and we are only boosting the adult cash fare rate by 25 cents and so I have to wonder what's the point?" asked Thorkelson.

"The point is the compounding factor," answered councillor Tony Briglio. "If you leave the raise without doing it for one year that is one thing, you don't do it for two, that's another thing and so on."

Briglio said that pretty soon you are going to have to have a 100 per cent increase on fares because you haven't raised the rate in step with the city's bus operating costs, which the city heavily subsidizes.

"We've established through our green initiative that we subsidize half of (the bus costs) and that's what it's going to be," said Briglio.

The city was to increase the fare for day passes to $3.75 for both adults and college students from the current $3.00. The effective date of the change would be Nov. 1.

Local resident Charles Justice said that he thought encouraging people to ride the bus was a good way for the city to lower carbon emissions.

"The people who most use the bus service in Prince Rupert are the people who can least afford the bus increases," said Justice.

Justice added that increasing the fare at this point would do the opposite and hurt the people who need the bus service the most.

Instead of the original motion, Councillor Ken Cote put forward a motion to include college students and the K-12 student day pass as one all-encompassing student day pass.
Prince Rupert councillors will reexamine the issue at the next council meeting in October.

According to BC Transit statistics released to the city, ridership totals have risen during the last five years in the city with the exception of 2006-07 when it dipped slightly.

However, there was a gigantic jump in riders during 2007-08 from 2006-07 when passenger numbers jumped to more than 390,000 from 350,000.

The last time the city increased the Bus fare prices the city was 2003.

No comments: