It’s no joke for bus riders.
The cost of riding a bus in Greater Victoria goes up effective Sunday, April 1.
The adult cash fare will increase by 25 cents to $2.25 for a one-zone trip and $3 for two zones. Youth and senior fares will increase by 15 cents to $1.40 for one zone and $2.25 for two.
The old $2 tickets will continue to be accepted until July 1; after that, they’ll have to be supplemented with a quarter.
April Fool’s Day also marks the introduction of a time-based transfer system which will allow customers to use transfers in any direction for 60 minutes.
“What we were getting was increased requests for those really short trips from one location to another during the day — a short trip to the grocery store or the drug store to pick up something and come back,” said Ron Drolet, B.C. Transit senior vice president.
“The sense was fares for the medium and long-haul traveller was very good value but for the short-haul traveller, it was getting very expensive.”
The new transfer means that a passenger could hop on a bus to downtown, quickly do their business and ride home for free. The driver will typically cut the transfer for 60 minutes from where they end their trip.
The time-based transfer has been used effectively in more than a dozen other Canadian cities such as Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, he said.
It’s understood that, initially, the move could see a drop in revenue, Drolet said since some people will now get two trips for the price of one.
“But that’s in our forecast and the overall fare increase takes account of that,” he said.
Coinciding with the cash fare increase, the cost of an adult monthly pass will rise to $73.25 from $65. Monthly passes for seniors and children increase to $42 from $37.
All fare increases are effective Sunday, except the U-Pass student card which will rise to $73.25 per semester on Sept. 1.
HandyDART fares, for those needing assistance with public transportation, will increase in line with conventional fares to $2.25 for a one zone trip and $3 for a two-zone trip.
It’s not just bus riders who are paying more for bus service.
Property taxes for Greater Victoria home owners are also going up by about $11, based on the assessed value of a typical home, to pay for transit improvements. The increase will be followed by smaller ones in the next two years, said Drolet.
The increases give B.C. Transit $7 million of new revenue. By September 2007, service in the region will increase by eight per cent.
“That gives us the ability to pay for increased costs in some of our key areas like fuel, maintenance and employee benefits,” said Drolet. “But we’ll also put the largest increase in service on the road this fall than we’ve done in more than 10 years.”
Those service increases will focus on the major routes.
“We’re going to put increases on the major regional trunk routes but there’s definitely going to be a weighting or focus to the West Shore on routes like the Goldstream and the Sooke.
“We’ll be looking at service frequencies from the West Shore into downtown of about five minutes in the rush hour.”
Current frequency is about every 10 minutes.