Nanaimo Regional District board chairman Joe Stanhope meets with Transportation Minister Shirley Bond today to lobby for relief from transit management fees that doubled for Nanaimo Regional Transit in two years.
The B.C. Transit Authority uses a formula to charge transit authorities for planning and other management costs.
Regional transit costs are shared three ways between the province, the regional district and riders themselves, through fares.
The RDN only found out about the latest cost increase in summer, after it submitted its final budget in March, leaving the RDN to raid its budget surplus to pay down this year's transit fees.
To make it up, the RDN could increase fares, but Stanhope says they would prefer not to go that route. Taxes are another option "but our board is very conscious of tax increases," he said.
Stanhope is also vice-president for the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities. He will try to rally support from other municipalities to do something about the fee hike at this week's Union of B.C. Municipalities gathering. He has also arranged a meeting with Bond today.
"I don't know the implications but somebody's got to yank these guys' chain," Stanhope said.
The fees rose from $3.60 to $6 per operating hour for conventional transit and from $2.50 to $4.50 an hour for custom (HandiDart) transit. Locally, it pushed the B.C. Transit bill to $600,000 for services that cost taxpayers $300,000 two years ago.
He expects strong support from other municipalities.
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