The Victoria Regional Transit Commission’s rejection of a plan to extend Victoria’s fare-free public transit service program for youth to the rest of the Capital Region iwas in the best interest of Sooke, says Mayor Maja Tait.
For the second time in less than a year, transit commissioners rejected a plan to pursue funding partners and develop a business case for the project.
the eight-person commission delivered another split vote – four in favour, four against.
Victoria Coun. Sharmarke Dubow, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch and North Saanich Mayor Geoff Orr supported the motion, while Tait, Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes, Colwood Mayor Rob Martin, and commission chair Susan Brice voted against. It was the second time Tait voted against the proposal.
Tait said there is a need for more transit options in Sooke.
“Expanding transit’s reach, convenience and reliability will do more to encourage ridership,” she said. “We don’t have enough service in Sooke now.”
Tait and others said that offering free fares will eat into money needed to buy more buses and increase the number of routes, particularly in Sooke and the West Shore.
The motion has failed in a 4-4 tie in which the long-time chair of the VRTC @Susan_Brice spoke against the motion and voted against. It would have passed if I had a vote, but unfortunatley the student seat is non-voting.
— Juliet (@julietwattts) February 25, 2020
Juliet Watts, the proponent representing post-secondary students in a non-voting seat on the commission, said she was “very disappointed to see the commission fail to seize the opportunity to empower the youth in the [Capital Regional District] with fare free transit.”
“If I had the privilege to vote as the representative of the largest demographic of transit users, it would have passed,” she said. “I hope that the commission reconsiders in the future, and goes even further to make all transit free while increasing service levels.”
Last November, Victoria launched a free bus program in a move designed to boost transit ridership, reduce traffic congestion and promote low-carbon affordable transportation.
– with files from the Victoria News