B.C. Transit in ‘crisis’ mode

Tax hike on table to bail budget out of deficit

Greater Victoria residents may face a $28.50 tax increase per household this year to offset flatlining B.C. Transit revenues and ridership.

But Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard is concerned taxpayers in the Capital Regional District are the only solution being looked at to address what he called a “crisis in transit.”

B.C. Transit is facing a projected deficit of $5.9 million for the coming year.

“It just seems like a default solution to me,” Leonard said at a Victoria Regional Transit Commission meeting on Tuesday.

Municipal representatives from Victoria, Saanich, Central Saanich, Oak Bay and Sooke currently sit at the commission table.

“Our taxpayers are going to ask … ‘did you look at other options?’” Leonard said.

But Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin said the tax increase supports a system that gets cars off the road, addresses parking woes and improves overall quality of life.

“Having transit service and basically telling everybody to get back into their cars is not an answer either,” Fortin said.

Transit officials said 10,000 hours of busing service, equivalent to between $330,000 and $440,000, may also need to be axed to address the transit company’s budget constraints, prompted last year by lagging global economic conditions.

Increased traffic congestion is also to blame, leading to expensive scheduling delays that result in added fuel and wage costs. Delays also discourage riders from using the service, which cut into revenue.

B.C. Transit has already enacted several cost-saving measures such as freezing spending and hiring and cutting back on capital expenditures.

It’s a dramatic departure from a 2010 to 2013 strategy that outlined the potential to add 50,000 bus service hours. By the end of 2010, the shortfall in revenue and ridership numbers was clear.

Despite monthly and cash fare increases last year, it may be necessary to cut low-performing routes and Friday and Saturday late-night bus service implemented on some routes last September, among other options.

To offset the need for future property tax increases, interim measures need to be put in place to start building ridership and generating revenue – especially with rapid transit still four or five years away, said Manuel Achadinha, B.C. Transit president and chief executive officer.

“We’ve got to do better with what we’ve got,” he said.

Faced with a three-week deadline before they must decide on the recommendations, members directed staff to explore the implications of different property tax increases, from zero to 30 per cent.

emccracken@vicnews.com

Just Posted

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

The City of Victoria is hoping to ring in the summer by celebrating local art and offering some distanced, live music to surprise people in parks, plazas and other public spaces. (Photo courtesy of the City of Victoria)
Live, pop-up concerts and local art being showcased in Victoria this summer

People will see surprise serenades at 16 locations throughout the summer

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

The 14th annual Oak Bay Young Exceptional Star (YES) awards June 3. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay celebrates its Young Exceptional Stars with outdoor award ceremony

Nine young people recognized in 14th annual awards

Jada Benwell and Connor Larkey are the valedictorians of the 2021 graduating class at Parkland Secondary School. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Pandemic taught lessons in perseverance for North Saanich high schoolers

Parkland Secondary School to release 2021 grad ceremony video on June 25

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read