The City of Victoria is advocating that bus fares be no more. (Black Press Media file photo)

The City of Victoria is advocating that bus fares be no more. (Black Press Media file photo)

Victoria council advocating for upper governments to scrap transit fares, implement livable income

Councillors calling for province to drop the farebox for all riders, not just children under the age of 12

Victoria council has approved advocating for upper levels of government to move away from the fare system for public transit and implement a guaranteed livable income for certain groups.

The advocacy resolutions were all passed at the Jan. 27 council meeting.

One motion brought forward by Couns. Jeremy Loveday and Ben Isitt calls on the province to work with local governments and invest in fare-free transit.

While B.C. adopted such a system for kids aged 12 and under last year, other cities in Europe and the U.S. have opted to ditch the farebox altogether, with that revenue instead coming from the tax system.

The local transit system is currently paid for by a combination of user fares, advertising revenues, the regional motor fuel tax and the remainder is funded by a partnership of local governments and the province, through BC Transit.

Loveday and Isitt’s motion said a zero-fare system would create equitable access to all aspects of life and could potentially help lower greenhouse gas emissions coming from transportation.

Victoria’s draft budget includes a 2022 line item that would see staff explore expanding the zero-fare system to low-income residents, seniors and others.

READ: Public transit is now free for children under 12 across B.C.

Another approved motion from Loveday and Isitt will see the city advocate that the B.C. government revise provincial income assistance programs to provide a liveable income for seniors, people with disabilities and community members living in poverty. The councillors said current assistance levels don’t cover the cost of necessities and increases to the cost of food, housing and transportation have made the situation worse.

Loveday also joined Coun. Marianne Alto on another adopted resolution that advocates for the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities to push for a federally funded guaranteed livable basic income. The effects of poverty create downstream pressures on municipalities that have limited resources, their motion said.

“Evidence from basic income research and pilots shows that when people have a sufficient and secure income their mental and physical health improves; they have the capacity to secure more affordable, suitable, and safe housing, childcare, healthy food, and transportation; and poverty rates decrease,” the councillors said.

READ: BC Transit to pilot electronic fare system in Greater Victoria

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