BC Greens float four-months free transit to ease rising cost of living

BC Greens are pitching the government make transit free for four months to help with rising gas prices. (CHEK News)

As prices go up on everything from groceries to gas, the rising cost of living is forcing many to make changes.

“I’m going to UVic and I might ride the bus because that would be cheaper for us,” said Priscilla Iames, who just moved to Canada from Mexico.

The price of gas is hitting record-breaking highs not only in Greater Victoria but across Canada, with experts predicting no immediate relief. Food prices have surged, the housing market remains hot, and inflation is at a 30-year-high.

To help ease the affordability crisis for British Columbians, the Green Party leader has a roadside pitch.

“Free transit for four months is a way to give people relief right now from the really high cost of living,” said Sonia Fursteneau.

Fuerstenau says the $1 billion which goes into subsidizing the oil and gas industry, should go instead into public transportation to create more infrastructure, and four months of free transit.

“Right now this government is doubling down on a lot of status quo responses and not recognizing they need to make decisions now that actually create a different future,” said Fursteneau. “We have to shape a future that has transportation alternatives for people that are affordable, that are accessible, that are reliable.”

Reaction to that on the streets of Victoria to the four-month free transit idea was positive.

“If transit was free, I think a lot of people would un-insure their cars as well and just take transit,” said Rahel Ulrich.

BC Transit says four months of free transit would amount to $6.8 million, TransLink which operates in Metro Vancouver says it would be $160 million, and the overall price tag the Ministry of Transportation put on it is $200 to $250 million dollars.

The Minister of Environment in charge of Translink says B.C. isn’t considering the move.

“We’ve put substantial funding into that to hold fares down to individuals and ensure that the services are there and they will use transit,” Minister George Heyman. “We have no plans at the moment to change the practice.”

For now, transit does remain free for kids under 12.

With files from Rob Shaw.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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