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City council approves bus fare increase set for September

The regular cost of riding the city transit in Williams Lake will likely increase by 50 cents on Sept. 1.

Presently a regular adult ticket costs $1.25. It will likely  increase to $1.75.

City council approved an increase in bus fares at its regular meeting Tuesday, saying it wants to try and recover 15 per cent of the cost.

Right now the fares are paying for 12 per cent of the service.

“We are under compared to other communities in what we charge for our transit,” Mayor Kerry Cook said.

In 2012/13, 86,026 riders used the buses.

Of the total operating cost of $741,043, the city’s net share of the cost was $386,308, while fare sources totalled $77,924.

Coun. Surinderpal Rathor voted against the increase, arguing too many people in Williams Lake have low incomes from what he sees preparing hundreds of income tax returns each year.

“People are riding the bus because they have no other choice,” Rathor said, adding if the fares go up, less people will ride the bus and the extra revenue will not be realized.

Coun. Ivan Bonnell said the intent of the increase is to balance the public’s interest.

“I think the public’s interest would be served better with even a higher recovery rate in the 20 or 25 per cent rate of return, but we’ll take micro steps. I understand the challenges of the 50 cent increase, but we cannot continue to provide the service without additional revenue coming from other sources other than taxation,” he said as he supported the increase.

Even at 15 per cent it will be still highly subsidized, Cook said.

“Nobody on this council takes increasing fares lightly, and it’s not an easy decision,” she added.

Council also approved that BC Transit conduct a service review for Williams Lake and area.

 

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