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Victoria aims to eliminate public transit fares to encourage more riders

Last Updated Apr 26, 2019 at 1:30 pm PDT

(Photo by Dustin Godfrey for NEWS 1130)

VICTORIA – Victoria wants to eliminate public transit fares for everyone in the region as a way to reduce the impacts of climate change.

Mayor Lisa Helps will bring a motion to the regional transit commission Monday, asking it to embrace a policy of phasing out user fees and expand bus service to meet an anticipated increase in demand.

Coun. Ben Isitt, who introduced the motion that was passed Thursday by council, says it would begin with the elimination of fares for youth under 19 next year and the broader community would be phased in.

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He says the transit system currently depends on $40 million in annual revenue from fares but is primarily funded through taxation in the form of provincial subsidies, gas taxes and property taxes.

He says the proposal would see fares eliminated and the existing taxation formula expanded.

The policy is already in place in jurisdictions like Luxembourg and Estonia, while youth ride free in Kingston, Ont.