ProVancouver party proposes flat fare and other transit discounts across Lower Mainland

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      A Vancouver party is proposing regional measures to make transit affordable for riders.

      ProVancouver’s proposals include a flat fare across the Lower Mainland.

      That means riders will pay the same fare for all trip distances.

      "Families and middle class working residents are leaving Vancouver every day due to the cost of housing,” according to the party. “We believe charging the same people more to come back to work every day is negative incentive and puts additional pressure on finding housing in business centers.”

      At present, there is a three-zone fare system for SkyTrain and Seabus. The entire region becomes a one-zone area after 6:30 p.m. on weekdays, and all day Saturday, Sunday, and holidays. There is a one-zone fare for buses.

      In July this year, the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation approved TransLink’s recommendations to overhaul the current fare system.

      The coming changes include the elimination of zones and a shift to distance-based fares on SkyTrain, Seabus, and future rapid transit. Buses will continue to have a single-zone fare.

      “Since most of the municipalities with affordable housing do not have good transit, residents, especially families, have no choice but to own a vehicle to do even the simplest of chores,” ProVancouver notes. “The high cost of transit encourages people to use a car for daily commutes.”

      As a start, the party suggests single-zone fare during peak hours before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m.

      According to its proposal, the entire region can become a single-zone area later.

      Following a review of the current fare system, TransLink rejected the option of a system-wide flat fare.

      According to TransLink, going flat fare would "increase fare prices by more than 20 per cent for the majority of trips taken on the system".

      A second measure being recommended by ProVancouver is a family pass.

      “Even with concession rate tickets, it can cost a family of four up to $37.60 to make a three-zone round trip,” the party notes. “At this cost, it makes little economic sense to take public transit, thereby adding more cars on the road.”

      In 2014, TransLink discontinued a program that allowed two adults and four children under the age of 13 to go anywhere on Sundays and holidays, using a single monthly fare card of one adult.

      The program was cut as TransLink put in place electronic fare gates.

      A third measure being proposed by ProVancouver is the provision of discounted fares for people earning less than $31,200 a year.

      The party notes that minimum wage workers in the province will earn the said amount when basic pay reaches $15 an hour by 2021.

      “ProVancouver recognizes that this is still far from Metro Vancouver’s living wage of $20.62. We will offer the $53 concession pass to anyone making less than $31,200 per year to compliment the change,” according to the party.

      A fourth suggestion by ProVancouver is a daily cap on fares.

      “World class cities like London have a cap on how much transit operators can charge in a single day,” the party explained. “ProVancouver will introduce a daily cap that equals the daily pass rate after which all transit for the remainder of the day will be free.”

      The party believes that the region can fund these measures through “additional revenue from increased ridership of public transit and efficiencies allowed by operating the network at near capacity”.