25 more cents to use public transit

Lisa
Lisa Goudy
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Mark Sture, transit manager with the City of Moose Jaw, answers a question at the March 31, 2014 executive committee meeting regarding a proposed fare increase of 25 cents.

Executive committee approves transit fare increase

Transit fares are going up.

The majority of executive committee approved increasing the transit fares from $2.25 for adults to $2.50 for adults at Monday’s meeting. The fare increases also increased student rates from $1.75 to $2 and increased senior rates from $1.75 to $2. Monthly rates, tickets and day passes are also going up.

“We haven’t had an increase in a while,” said Coun. Patrick Boyle. “It’s one of those necessary evils that we have to do.”

This is the first fare increase since Jan. 1, 2011. Since then, costs have increased, including an overall labour cost increase of eight per cent.

“I know that it’s not going to be a popular item. Constant increases never are, but transit services provided in the city are vital to a significant portion of the population and contribution of the user fees towards that service is vital to keeping it in place,” said Coun. Don Mitchell. “I think it’s a warranted adjustment.”

The increased rates will take effect after a 60-day notification and preparation period and all changes will be advertised on the city website and in the newspaper. It comes as a result of the internal review of the city’s transit system.

Mark Sture, transit manager with the city, said last year the revenue collected was just over $350,000. The department recovers about 35 per cent of its costs through the fare box and advertising revenue. Last year, advertising revenue accounted for $20,000 of that cost recovery.

However, raising fare rates doesn’t necessarily mean increased revenue, according to Sture’s report to executive committee. It said a 10 per cent increase in fares equates to a three per cent drop or addition in riders.

“Any fare increase causes some riders to find alternate modes of transportation,” it said.

When asked about the fare levels compared to other cities, Sture said Prince Albert’s adult fare is $2, but a citizen group is pushing to have that increased to $3. Transit fare in Regina is $2.50 for adults and in Saskatoon transit fare is $3.

“Transit is just such as important service for such a core group of the community. Transit to me is one of those things that to some degree a municipality does subsidize,” said Coun. Dawn Luhning. “For the people that this affects, I’m not convinced (of a) fare increase.”

Coun. Heather Eby said costs are always going up.

“Even though we’re going to increase the fare, it’s still a highly subsidized service,” she said. “So I am in favour of the increase.”

The transit review also included proposed service changes and route adjustments. Sture said a report regarding that item would come before executive committee at the next executive committee meeting.

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Organizations: Prince Albert

Geographic location: Regina, Saskatoon

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