Ex–TransLink board members regret fare hike
Port Moody mayor Joe Trasolini was the only member of the old TransLink board who voted against the transit-fare increases that took effect on January 1.
Trasolini is no longer a board member, as provincial-government nominees have replaced elected civic officials on the board of the now-renamed South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority, and he still asserts it was wrong to jack up fares.
“I believe it was too high, and it sends the wrong message,” Trasolini told the Straight. “If I had my way, I think that public transit should be free. Somebody has to pay for it, but it should be paid from general revenues”¦that the province collects out of income tax. That would be the greatest. But at least make it affordable so that more people would use it and more people would park their vehicles, and then we would need less roads and we would have more reliance on public transit and less greenhouse-gas emission.”
The fare increases were approved in a June 27, 2007, meeting of the old TransLink board.
Another former board member is having second thoughts about one item affected by the increase—that of cash fares for a one-zone trip rising from $2.25 to $2.50.
Vancouver NPA councillor Suzanne Anton told the Straight that, in hindsight, it wasn’t prudent to increase cash fares by that much.
“I think the trouble with that one is that that’s the one that’s the sort of spur-of-the-moment trip that you take,” Anton said. “It’s important to make sure they don’t go up too high because we want people on the bus. It’s not a good policy.”
Anton noted that although frequent riders using either monthly passes or fare tickets aren’t affected as much, high cash fares will discourage others from taking transit more often.
Compared with Toronto and Montreal, cash fares are cheaper in Greater Vancouver, noted TransLink spokesperson Drew Snider. In an interview with the Straight, Snider pointed out that one-zone riders can use their tickets to and from their destination within a 90-minute period, whereas riders in Toronto and Montreal have to pay $2.75 and purchase another ticket for the return trip.
Aiyanas Ormond, an organizer with the Bus Riders Union, told the Straight that transit users can expect further fare increases. Ormond explained that legislation restricts the transportation authority from increasing the fuel tax unless it is raising needed revenue from two other sources as well, namely property taxes and transit fares.