COPE party pitches $41 transit pass for Vancouver residents as more fare increases are coming

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      Last summer, transit riders were dinged by a fare increase.

      More increases are coming down the line.

      In 2020 and 2021, single fares are programmed to rise by 10 to 15 cents. The cost of a monthly pass is going up 50 cents to $1.

      At present, a single cash fare for a one-zone travel is $2.95. For a one-zone monthly pass, it’s $95.

      Vancouver’s oldest left-wing party doesn’t think it’s right for people in the city to just suck it up.

      According to the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE), it’s possible for residents to have a community pass at less than half the cost of a monthly pass.

      “Many people would be attracted if you could get a bus pass for $41 a month,” COPE’s Anne Roberts told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview Tuesday (September 25).

      Roberts is a former city councillor, and she is running for council in this year’s October 20 election.

      At $41, the community pass being suggested by COPE costs the same as the current U-Pass for post- secondary students.

      “When looking at the city of doing a similar thing, we could have a community pass and then work out a relationship with TransLink,” said Roberts, a retired journalism instructor.

      Based on COPE’s calculation, TransLink doesn’t have to lose money with this universal transit pass.

      According to the party, the transportation agency gets around $150 million in fares from Vancouver residents per year.

      If each of the estimated 450,000 working-age people living in Vancouver gets a $41 pass, this would generate $185 million.

      COPE is proposing that no one would be forced to buy a universal pass.

      Rather, Vancouver residents could opt-in to the program, and Vancouver city council would work with Translink and the province to cover lost fares with B.C.'s carbon tax increases.

      “We know more than 50 percent of our residents are renters,” Roberts said.  They don’t have much money. They’re really pressed. So, I think many families, anybody with kids, like transit is an expensive part. I’m sure many, many people would like to sign up for it. You know, we think it’s feasible.”

      COPE’s transit program also includes free transit for people between the ages of five and 18.

      Roberts noted that at present, TransLink collects around $30 million in fares from children below the age of 18 across the Lower Mainland.

      Close to half of this or about $12 million come from Vancouver.

      “It helps families for sure in affordability,” Roberts said about free transit for kids. “You also create transit riders. You know, you have people who totally know the bus system, know how to get around, use it regularly. You’re talking about really turning the corner on people not getting cars. You create lifelong transit users that way.”

      One of the objectives of COPE’s transit platform is to create lifelong riders among today’s children.

      COPE is also suggesting free transit for low-income people. 

      Roberts said that a sliding scale of fares for low-income residents like the one in Calgary is also an option.

      In Calgary’s sliding scale, a single person earning less than $12,669 is eligible for a monthly transit pass of $5.15.