Squamish transit users can expect to see a new fare structure that will eliminate the transfer system, as well as an expansion to bus routes in September 2019.
On Mar. 12, municipal council voted unanimously in favour of implementing a bus payment structure that introduces day passes on board Squamish transit.
In turn, transfers will be eliminated. Day passes will cost $4, which is twice the amount of normal fare.
This means anyone on a route that requires a transfer would have to pay double the amount.
Coun. Jenna Stoner expressed her support but noted that doubling the cost of transfer trips could put a crunch on some residents.
“If we can just be cognizant of that moving forward and the impact it might have on some folks,” she said.
However, this could still work out for users, said Ryan Dennis, sales and revenue manager at BC Transit.
“What we do see is a majority of trips are two ways, and thereby, most people would need to have a return trip,” Dennis said.
It’s projected this fare structure would increase revenue by nine per cent, adding about $27,000 for the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year.
There’d also be a 10-per-cent increase in ridership, which equates to an additional 25,700 boardings in the same time period.
That’s because people will ride the bus more during the day, and monthly passes would become more affordable compared with day passes, according to a BC Transit report.
There was some discussion about either implementing free fares for students under 18 or eliminating fares altogether.
However, those ideas were discarded as being too costly.
BC Transit also proposed a small increase for handyDART fares, but Mayor Karen Elliott shot it down, saying the benefits from the raise were so small as to be negligible, given the possible cost to riders.
“Most handyDART riders are on fixed income,” Elliott said.
Finally, staff were directed to work with BC Transit to implement 2019 route expansions that would be effective in September.
This includes adding an earlier trip on Route 2 Garibaldi Highlands to meet the Squamish Connector; improving weekend service to Quest University; providing an additional evening trip on the Route 9 Quest; modifying Route 4 to serve the business park and filling in gaps on Routes 1, 2, and 3 to the business park, Brennan Park and the hospital.