Kamloops council moves forward with plan to get rid of bus transfers and update transit fares

While little paper transfers were a bit of a sticking point, Kamloops council has directed city staff to update the city's bus fares.

Buses in Kamloops will be moving towards a transfer-free system with day passes purchased on buses essentially replacing the current system, as per staff recommendations. During today's (May 14) committee of the whole council meeting, councillors spoke positively about most of the updates proposed but some remained concerned about the disappearance of transfers.

"This recommendation is made due to issues that stem from the subjective nature of how transfers are used," states a city report on transit in the city. "(This) creates the potential for fare evasion by transit users who attempt to use an expired or invalid transfer as a valid fare. In escalated circumstances, this can lead to conflict between customers and bus operators."

The changes are planned for September of this year.

The concern raised by Coun. Kathy Sinclair was for people who use the bus infrequently, only once in a day and need a transfer as they switch buses at a hub. In the current transfer system, they pay their $2 fare on the first bus, get a transfer and then can use that transfer for the next hour to get on additional buses.

In the day pass system, to complete the same trip, they would have to pay $4. However, that fare is for a DayPASS, which is good for the whole day.

TransitFares(via City of Kamloops)

During the meeting, engineering manager Deven Matkowski explained eventually the transfer system will be obsolete as B.C. Transit moves to smart buses with new technology, including at the fare box.

Because B.C. Transit is moving forward to transfer-less systems, Deven Matkowski says if Kamloops bucks the trend the city would drop in the queue for new technology, since communities that are fully aligned with B.C. Transit will move to the new technology first.

He also noted Prince George and Nanaimo have agreed to the new system already, while Kelowna hasn't yet. Nanaimo has already moved to the new system, while Prince George will be changing in September of this year

Other fare changes are coming as well, with a variety of monthly passes dropping a few dollars. The DayPASS, which has always existed but couldn't be purchased on buses, also drops, from $5 to $4.

Bus tickets will be moving to a flat rate (instead of two tiers with discounted tickets for students and seniors). Tickets will be allowed to be used for day passes, but riders will require two.

The transit report presented to city council notes that with the proposed changes, they project a six per cent increase to revenue from the city's transit system and an 11 per cent increase in ridership.

Council previously discussed the fare changes and asked for more information from city staff due to the concerns for how the end of transfers would impact the city.

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