A motion to explore free youth bus passes across the Capital Regional District has been defeated by the Victoria Regional Transit Commission.
The commission met Tuesday at the BC Transit Office, with four commission members voting in favour of the motion and four opposed. Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, Victoria Coun. Sharmarke Dubow, Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch and North Saanich Mayor Geoff Orr voted in favour. Saanich Coun. Susan Brice, Colwood Mayor Rob Martin, Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes and Sooke Mayor Maja Tate voted against.
“At this point all resources and all energy in my opinion needs to be to provide a more comprehensive, better coverage, more frequency” said Transit Commission Chair Susan Brice.
“If you don’t have the bus available for people to go from cars to the bus you cannot address climate change” added Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes
A no vote on fare-free transit for youth in the Region. Fails on another tie vote. Why do we have a decision making body with an even number of voting members? Perhaps the student representative who isn’t given a vote should be able to break a tie. #yyj https://t.co/L72ZxYEA7q
— Jeremy Loveday (@JeremyLoveday) February 25, 2020
The City of Victoria rolled out free bus passes for youth in December 2019, with 7,200 bus passes available for residents aged 12 to 19. Eligible youth go to city hall and provide a proof of address every month to pick up their passes. Mayor Lisa Helps spearheaded that initiative, and was also the one who submitted today’s motion.
“The concerns mostly were about if we do this we can’t expand service, I don’t buy that. So it is unfair, but it is what it is.” said Helps
Youth in attendance displayed clear disappointment.
“I’m disappointed to hear some of the opinions raised that we can’t make transit better and also make it free” said 17-year-old View Royal Resident Emma-Jane Burian.
“I was absolutely disgusted because I remember a couple years ago encouraging my friends and parents to vote Fred Haynes because he has climate forward policies and what he said today absolutely contradicts those climate forward policies.” said Grace Sinats, a 14-year-old Saanich resident.
The cost of bus passes is covered by parking revenue from 2019 and 2020.
From September 2020 onward, the cost of the bus passes for the city is expected to increase to around $925,000 a year.
More to come