In the new year, the District of Squamish is set to count its quarters.
Municipal officials will have to decide whether they want to increase public transit fares from $1.75 per adult to $2, Kimberley Armour said. The fares collected in Squamish cover 30 per cent of the transit fleet’s operating costs, the district transit coordinator said at Tuesday’s (Dec. 11) Squamish Transit Standing Committee.
Currently, the district rates are below what B.C. communities of a similar size charge, Armour noted.
Council will also need to examine its 90-minute bus fare, which is good for any transit bus within that timeframe. It’s the same system used in the Lower Mainland, Armour said; however, more rural areas, such as Whistler, have turned to a one-way ticket.
This system allows riders to get on and off a bus in a single direction, requiring an additional return ticket to get back to one’s point of origin. The timeframe pass encourages ridership, but doesn’t generate revenue, Armour noted.
The recommendation to increase fares comes from a June 2012 B.C. Transit study, compiled with the help of the district, she said. The research recommends implementing the hikes in April. Council has the final say to whether and when it would introduce a fare increase, Armour said.
Bus fare revenue will never fully fund expenses, Coun. Susan Chapelle said. She backed the 25-cent increase, but said she didn’t like the one-way transfer fare.
The current 90-minute timeframe doesn’t seem long enough, Coun. Patricia Heintzman added. She suggested the district consider extending the timeframe.
The district should also look into synergies to accompany the purchase of bus passes, Heintzman added. That, for example, could come in the form of a 10 per cent discount for the district’s parks and rec programs, she said.
An increase in fares would help the municipality pay for proposed transit improvements in the coming years, Heintzman added.
Backed by the committee, a recommended fare increase and hunt for synergies will go before council.