A proposed subsidized transit pass aims to keep more money in the pockets of local students, with the exception of youth living in Valleycliffe.
The District of Squamish is eyeing subsidizing student transit passes to enable a standardize $20-per-month rate — $19 less than the cost of an adult pass. The discounted rate aims to boost youth ridership on the public system, the municipality’s transportation coordinator Kimberly Armour said at the Committee of the Whole meeting on Sept. 18. It also enables passes to be sold at school offices, she said, noting that if approved, sales would start on Nov. 1.
Since 2003, Valleycliffe students have been offered bus passes for $10 per month. The low fee was put in place because the area isn’t served by school buses as it’s within the Sea to Sky School District’s four-kilometre walkable limit to Howe Sound Secondary School. At the time, there was no safe walking route to schools, Armour said.
However, the Corridor Trail from Valleycliffe to the downtown underpass at Pemberton Avenue is now in place and maintained year-round, she noted. Over the past 11 months, 331 passes were sold to Valleycliffe students, Armour said, an average of 30 passes per month.
Coun. Patricia Heintzman argued that hiking the Valleycliffe student rate was “premature.” A safe walking route to school is not yet fully complete, she said.
“Valleycliffe always seems to get the raw end of the deal,” Heintzman said.
She made a motion that the district keep the $10 rate until the trail link is complete. The motion failed in a split vote, with councillors Doug Race and Susan Chapelle and Mayor Rob Kirkham in opposition.
“I really don’t think holding up this process for a 10-buck discount is a great policy,” Chapelle said.
Chapelle and Coun. Bryan Raiser questioned whether students living close to Raven’s Plateau and Plateau Drive could catch the school bus from the area, which is outside the school district’s walkable limits.
Valleycliffe students would need a pass to get on that school bus, said Rick Hume, the school district’s director of facilities and services. No such pass is available at the moment, he said. That bus comes up from Britannia Beach and Squamish Nation land, Hume said, noting that by the time it reaches Raven’s Plateau it is almost full.
“We would just be opening the flood gates,” he said, adding that he estimates three additional buses would be required to pick up all the Valleycliffe students.
The new student rate will come back to council for approval next month.