Victoria to vote on free transit for everyone
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Thursday, April 25, 2019 2:25PM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 25, 2019 6:32PM PDT
The City of Victoria will consider making public transit free for all riders.
The bold proposal will be brought to city council Thursday night by councillors Ben Isitt and Sharmarke Dubow.
It recommends phasing out all transit user fees in the Capital Regional District and massively expanding service as a form of climate action pilot program.
The loss of fare-box funding would be picked up through taxation, provincial subsidies or a mix of the two.
The proposal has the support of Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, who says that making transit fare-free is a definite possibility for the region.
"This conversation started with Victoria voting to pay for youth transit so youth transit is free," Helps told CTV News Thursday. "That's galvanized lots of people who currently have a burden to pay for transit."
Helps acknowledged the "free" transit system would ultimately be paid for through increases in property taxes, gas taxes or provincial subsidies. All that at a time when residents are already paying some of the highest gas and home prices in the country.
"This is the direction we need to move as a region," Helps said. "We have declared a climate emergency as a region, and the single biggest cause of greenhouse gas emissions as a region is transportation. So the single biggest solution is moving more people with less carbon. It's quite simple."
If passed at council, the resolution would be sent to other CRD councils and the Victoria Regional Transit Commission, which has ultimate authority over the transit funding model.