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BC Transit (Victoria Regional Transit System) news and issues


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#61 obscurantist

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Posted 29 November 2006 - 01:10 PM

[url=http://www.saanichnews.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=28&cat=23&id=781751&more=:9612b]CRD directors argue over allocation of $11 million gas tax debate[/url:9612b]

The money is part of the federal gas tax rebate announced in the former federal Liberal regime’s “New Deal” package. Under agreements reached with the Union of B.C. Municipalities, local municipalities will receive half of their rebates directly, with the other half going to the Capital Regional District for use on public transit.

But now some members of the CRD board want to change the formula and reallocate money to bike lanes, trails and sidewalks leaving but a portion to improve transit service.

Esquimalt Mayor Chris Clement doesn’t like the idea of sending the entire $11 million to transit.

“The money from the federal government is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” he argued. “Bicycle and pedestrian initiatives have more impact than buying more buses or putting more bus services on the road.”

Clement sharply criticized Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard, the main proponent of retaining the $11 million for transit.

If, Clement argued, that happens, it “lets the (provincial) government off the hook” for appropriate funding of transit.

“The (Regional Transit) Commission sees this as a way of solving their problem, rather than (asking) for a gas tax.”

Leonard, however, said the mayors of major cities lobbied former prime minister Paul Martin for gas tax revenues largely for transit system support. Those behind the lobby realized that not all towns and cities needed support for transit – or even had transit systems to support. Hence, groups like the UBCM worked with the federal government for a funding formula that would meet every municipality’s needs.

Locally, Greater Victoria towns and cities received their portion of half the allocated $22 million gas-tax rebate directly. ...

Under federal guidelines, gas tax revenues had to go either to a local government or regional body such as the CRD. Given that the transit commission is not a local government, the $11 [million] was to be given to the CRD, largely in trust and earmarked for the transit commission.

Reallocating that money outside of transit would leave a mere $4 million of $22 million grant for transit, Leonard noted.

Leonard dismisses claims the transit commission – on which he sits – isn’t seeking gas tax levies in the Capital Region.

“We keep asking (minister) Kevin Falcon, and he keeps deferring. We can keep doing that, but does that mean we take the federal gas tax money and not spend it on transit? It’s not practical. It’s political, but not practical.”

The $11 million was meant for transit, and should go there, Leonard argued.

“What are you going to do now? Not spend the money on regional transit because you’re mad at Gordon Campbell?” ...

The alternate plan, he said makes little sense: local municipalities have already gained money for infrastructure improvements, such as sidewalks and bike lanes.

And, he notes, the CRD doesn’t actually do anything in terms of pedestrian infrastructure.

“I’m not convinced that the regional government should be in sidewalk business,” Leonard summarized. “There’s going to be more losers than winners on that.”

I'm no fan of the way the province has kept stalling on the provincial gas tax revenues, but I think I agree with Leonard.

On another note, how are the various Victoria buses doing in the snow? I know that they briefly had to cancel all service several days ago.

I've earlier heard Victoria bus drivers say that many of the fleet's buses are virtually impossible to steer in icy conditions -- I think at least the British-built Dennis Dart smaller buses and the double deckers -- and possibly also the low-floor New Flyers, which make up the bulk of the fleet. The older high-floor buses are apparently the best ones for winter conditions.

I'd be curious to know if the new Nova low-floor buses are an improvement on the other low-floor ones -- I would imagine so, given that Montreal's fleet is mainly Nova low-floor buses.

#62 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 29 November 2006 - 01:17 PM

How many buese have crashed so far this week?
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#63 Mike K.

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Posted 29 November 2006 - 03:38 PM

That's odd that the New Flyers are crap in the snow as they're built in Winterpeg and used across this country all winter long. Perhaps its the tires used out here?

Another forumer here mentioned that the Dennis Darts are horrible and spend much of their time in the service bay. Not good.

@ Leonard, he does have a good point. Btw, what's with the new bike lanes along Douglas if we'll be taking two lanes out for the new busway? They're not planning on leaving a single lane on Douglas each way, are they? :smt108

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#64 Galvanized

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 12:11 PM

Fares to cost more

By Dunc Malcolm
Saanich News
Dec 15 2006

The Victoria Regional Transit Commission has endorsed a hybrid formula to fund service improvements over the next three years.

On Tuesday, following a public hearing on the matter, the commission voted unanimously in favour of combining a one-time fare increase with incremental property tax increases.

The formula provides for a fare increase of 25 cents effective April, 2007 along with property tax increases of $11, $10 and $9 for 2007, 2008 and 2009 respectively.

Plans call for the proposed fare increase to be ratified at the commission’s January meeting and to take effect April 1, 2007. The 2007 property tax increase recommendations will be formalized at the February 2007 meeting, and annually thereafter.

BC Transit Chief Financial Officer Tony Sharp said the increases would generate additional annual property tax revenue of $2 million, $4 million and $6 million through to 2009. Fare increases would account for an additional $3.8 million annually.

On a motion by Victoria Mayor Alan Lowe, the commission initially considered combining the fare increase with a one-time property tax increase of $20 in 2007 and no further property tax increase for the balance of the three-year plan.

“A one-time increase gives us room to play,” said Lowe. “We might as well do it in one shot.”

Oak Bay Mayor Christopher Causton questioned why the gas tax was not included in discussions on funding alternatives. However, commission chairperson Don Amos assured Causton that the gas tax issue was a component of all budget-based discussions between the government and BC Transit.

Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard said was reluctant to look at budget requirements three years down the road and that a one-time levy was against his principles.

“A part of me resists assuming revenue projections in 2009-2010 and I am generally opposed to taxing in advance for anything,” he said. “Besides, a new commission will arrive in 2008-2009 and review it again anyway.”

Leonard pointed out that under Lowe’s motion, the Regional Transit Fund would grow to nearly $4.5 million in the first year. Leonard argued that an overly healthy fund might defeat any arguments in favour of a gas tax.

“I like the year-to-year formula. It allows us to maintain pressure on the province regarding the gas tax.”

Lowe agreed and amended his motion to support the incremental formula.

Sharp said typically, the Regional Transit Fund is between $1 million and $2 million and that anything more would undermine the commission’s arguments that a gas tax increase is necessary to reach revenue targets.

Amos said the commission had received considerable public input on the funding formula options. Of the 412 responses, 376 were in favour of some form of increase. Only nine respondents objected to a fare increase and 12 were against a property tax increase.

UVic grad student Dan Pollock argued that revenue increases should be drawn primarily from property tax increases.

“Fare payers tend to be the least able to pay,” said Pollock.

© Copyright 2006 Saanich News
Past President of Victoria's Flâneur Union Local 1862

#65 Galvanized

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 12:26 PM

The funny thing about this article is that it doesn't mention what the actual fares will be. They only talk of the property levy and potential gas tax increase.

One zone will be $2.25 and two zone will be $3.00. The monthly pass goes up $8.25 to $73.25. The new fares will be almost the same as Vancouver. There is a rumour that you will also be able to use your transfer for a return trip which will save a lot of people money if they are going shopping/running errands.

I also found out that UVic students will pay $73.25 per semester. Now I'm all for giving students a break but to only pay the equivalent of one month's regular pass for up to 4 months of travel is too much of a discount. It breaks down to only paying 25% what a resident has to pay and they get passed up all the time because the bus is always packed with students! They should be at least doubling what they charge for the UPass and not charging as much for a regular pass.
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#66 G-Man

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 12:56 PM

From when I was attending that is almost double what I was paying so they already have increased it.

I would not favour increasing U-Pass because it is not only for transporting students to school but it is also for changing habits so that after graduation the student feels comfortable continuing using the bus.

Also even on a good day I would say that ridership is probably 55 % of UVic and Camosun Students maybe less, the balance driving, walking or riding their bike, but every student no matter what has to pay for the U-Pass. So that is a large subsidy actually going back to BC Transit.

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#67 Mike K.

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 01:00 PM

My understanding is that only 50% - 60% of students at UVic use their upass on a daily basis. Others use it less frequently or barely at all. So already UVic students pay almost $3 million a year into the system if you add summer students into the mix (there are about 19,000 students up there).

The whole point of the upass is to discourage driving, so at $150 a semester that'd be pretty close to the parking fees uvic charges. Given the option between a 20 minute commute in a vehicle or a 45 minute commute + wait times + pass-ups on a crowded bus (that's what it was in my case), I think many who take the bus because of the price difference would choose to get back into their vehicles and vote out of the upass deal.

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#68 Galvanized

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 06:41 PM

G-Man, good point about trying to get the students in the habit of taking the bus after grad, they may have never considered taking the bus if they didn't in school.

The ones who are using the UPass are getting one hell of a deal and I can't believe some students who complain about it. If it is 60% of the student popluation that rides the bus at peak times that causes enough hardship for those who pay for a pass and property taxes then I'd hate to see what would happen if 100% of them used it. That being said I think the % of students using it have gone up considerably since how much tuition has gone up in the last few years. If they don't live with their folks then they don't have a choice on taking the bus, how could you afford a car?

It's just frustrating getting passed up by more than one bus in a row full of students when you pay almost 4 times that to ride the bus. It's another reason to drive instead. If they charged less for the regular pass then it may make more regular folk opt for the bus so all I'm saying is a good way to reduce the regular pass is to charge the ones using it the most who pay the least. I'm all for giving them a break but $18 vs. $73 a month is a big difference.
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#69 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 07:46 PM

^ I'm not in favour of communism. Charge parking rates at UVic that reflect the cost of providing the service and space, kids will buy bus passes for full pop.
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#70 G-Man

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 09:11 PM

It ain't communism if it costs more than a penny.

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#71 Mike K.

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 10:23 AM

If transit believes the upass is now a victim of its own success, get rid of mandatory payments and charge students the going rate. Problem solved.

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#72 Holden West

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 10:50 AM

Someone told me the residents of Fernwood are organizing their own version of the U-Pass.
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#73 Mike K.

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 11:01 AM

I think transit's up ****'s creek with all these upass'!

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#74 G-Man

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 11:03 AM

Not if they got everyone in Fernwood to pay 75 bucks every four months like UVic Students. I am sure that more would not use than use it.

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#75 Mike K.

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 11:06 AM

I highly, highly doubt the group behind this will be able to solicit a large enough number of people to make this worthwhile. And then who manages it? Who ensures no counterfeiting occurs? UVic has a very costly system in place to ensure nobody abuses the passes and, of course, the mass of bodies to pay into the deal.

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#76 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 01:58 PM

Someone told me the residents of Fernwood are organizing their own version of the U-Pass.


They couldn't make the payment MANDATORY like UVic / Camosun students face. I know, they (UVic and Camosun student societies) likely voted for it, but even if Fernwoodians voted for it, there would be no power to impose the tax.
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#77 Holden West

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 02:12 PM

Fernwoodites? Fernwoodelphians?

I found a reference to it on a recent Fernwood CA newsletter:

"Calling all Fernwood Transit Riders
Fernwood NRG is interested in promoting our neighbourhood’s sus-
tainability by making it easier and cheaper to take the bus. We are
considering becoming a sponsor for the Victoria Regional Transit
System’s ProPass Program. Normally offered only through large
employers, this program offers a perpetual Photo ID bus pass paid for
through automatic deduction and saves adult users about $110 per
year.
If you are a transit user interested in participating in a program like
this or if you want to brainstorm other transit-related ideas, please
contact Tania at mailto:treasurer@fernwoodneighbourhood.ca"
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#78 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 02:15 PM

Fernwoodites? Fernwoodelphians?

I found a reference to it on a recent Fernwood CA newsletter:

"Calling all Fernwood Transit Riders
Fernwood NRG is interested in promoting our neighbourhood’s sus-
tainability by making it easier and cheaper to take the bus. We are
considering becoming a sponsor for the Victoria Regional Transit
System’s ProPass Program. Normally offered only through large
employers, this program offers a perpetual Photo ID bus pass paid for
through automatic deduction and saves adult users about $110 per
year.
If you are a transit user interested in participating in a program like
this or if you want to brainstorm other transit-related ideas, please
contact Tania at mailto:treasurer@fernwoodneighbourhood.ca"


Propass is very different from U-Pass.

U-pass is involuntary, ProPass is for any organization with at least a dozen or so riders...

http://bct1.transitb... ... cfm?s=bct1
<p><span style="font-size:12px;"><em><span style="color:rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;">"I don’t need a middle person in my pizza slice transaction" <strong>- zoomer, April 17, 2018</strong></span></em></span>

#79 Caramia

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 06:21 PM

Dang do you think you have to live in Fernwood to participate?
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#80 Holden West

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 06:44 PM

^I'm told it's transferable within a household so your best bet would be to hook up with a single Fernwood dude.

But then, you probably wouldn't need the bus pass because I believe every Fernwood dude comes equipped with his own '72 VW camper van.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

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