King hopes eliminating point-of-contact user fees will encourage people to ditch their cars and take the bus. (BC Transit Photo)

Central Saanich councillor wants free transit for all

Zeb King says, ‘let’s make transit efficient, effective and helpful’

A common complaint about politicians yakking about climate-change and car emissions is the solutions they propose often hit Joe and Jane Public in the pocket.

If there are no reliable alternatives to ditching the car what are people to do?

Councillor Zeb King of Central Saanich has an idea: free bus travel. For everyone.

ALSO READ: Slaying dragons: getting inside the minds of climate change skeptics

The CRD has declared a climate emergency, encouraging Greater Victoria municipalities to follow suit. And although Central Saanich declined to do so, there is a determination among some on Council to do something to combat the situation.

King has put forward a motion, to be voted on May 6, requesting the Transport Commissioner for the Saanich Peninsula come before Council. The Commissioner’s presence would allow a forum for residents and staff to highlight transport issues important to the district. The current Commissioner is North Saanich Mayor Geoff Orr, who is one of seven representatives on the Victoria Regional Transit Commission, a body that has sweeping powers to make transit decisions for the region.

The motion is important to some residents as their municipality’s views are essentially represented by a North Saanich official with no accountability to Central Saanich voters.

ALSO READ: Top 10 Climate Change myths debunked

King wants a new bus stop and free bus travel discussed if the vote goes his way.

“I don’t think we necessarily need to put electric car chargers everywhere, although that might be one [helpful] thing, but I think we should remove the barriers for people, no matter their age or income, to get from Point A to Point B and let’s publicly fund public transit and not then tack on a user fee, in addition.”

The council have been called a “vocal council for improvements to transit” over the years and although they control some transport elements, such as bus stop sites, they don’t have power over bigger issues without the support of the Commission.

King is of the opinion that key public services like hospitals, police and even libraries don’t charge user fees so why should transit?

“I think its a bit of a hard sell to tell everyone that they need to be driving electric cars, but an equalizer is public transit – kids, seniors, everyone can use it so if we’re going to be serious about tackling this climate emergency lets make transit efficient, effective and helpful for everyone.”

ALSO READ: Scientists warn warmer and more acidic oceans threaten marine life

It is understood that the City of Victoria are considering a similar proposal to have free transit and are exploring different ways to fund it, including through increased parking fees. King suggests Central Saanich could fund the initiative through property taxes, although exact numbers would need to be calculated.

BC Transit was unable to provide passenger revenues isolated to stops involving Central Saanich but said passenger revenues in the Victoria Regional Transit System (VRTS) as a whole in 2017/18 were $40.8 million. The current year is still being calculated.

It said in a statement, “The VRTS is funded by the Victoria Regional Transit Commission and the Province of BC. The Commission’s contribution to the VRTS is funded through revenue, property taxes and fuel tax.”



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Faulty janitorial equipment likely caused Saanich school fire

Saturday morning fire damaged roof of Strawberry Vale Elementary

Greater Victoria records highest unemployment in history with 11 per cent

Past peak was 7.8 per cent more than a decade ago, according to South Island Prosperity Partnership

Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre to host a trio of acts

Aaron Pritchett, Alex Cuba and Valdy will each play four shows

Garth Homer Society in Saanich turns lemons into lemonade with online programs

Victoria disability organization sets up online programs and learning tools in wake of COVID-19

Human behaviour likely to deter birds from Esquimalt Lagoon, survey suggests

More Great Blue Herons spotted, fewer mallard ducks seen

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Shellfish industry get funds to clean up at Island sites and beyond

Businesses can apply to cover half of costs to clean up so-called ‘ghost gear’

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Most Read