Bus fares throughout the Central Okanagan could be on their up after Kelowna city council was asked to approve a hike all types of bus tickets and passes.

Central Okanagan bus fares expected to increase

Kelowna city council approves an increase to all fares, including a new standard $2.50 per single ride.

Kelowna city has approved the first hike in local transit¬† fares in three years. Now it’s up to municipal councils in West Kelowna, Lake Country, Peachland,the regional district board and the Westbank First Nation council to agree.

At its regular Monday afternoon meeting, council was asked to support a move to standardize all single trip fares at $2.50 each, up from the current $2.25 for adults and college students and $2 for seniors and elementary, middle school and high school students charged now. Children under five will continue to ride for free.

In addition to hiking the single trip fare, sheets of 10 tickets will jump in cost to $22.50 from 20.25 for adults and college students, while seniors and students up to Grade 12 would a hike of $2.25 to $20.25.

Day passes for everyone will also be standardized at $6.50 each, up from the current $6 for adults and $5.50 for seniors and students,while monthly passes will increase by $10 for adults to $70 each, $3 for seniors to $45 each, $7 for college students to $55 each and $7 for students up to Grade 12 to $45 each.

Family Max for Students passes will jump by $17 each to $112 each, while the UPASS for university and college students would cost $70 as of September 2016, up from the current $60 if approved in a referendum of UBCO students.

City staff say the increases, the first since 2012, are needed achieve a 27 per cent per cent cost recovery for the local transit system. The municipality’s had said they wanted a 30 per cent cost recovery but that would have required a 29 per cent increase in fares.

The transit system in the Central Okanagan is funded by Kelowna, Lake Country, West Kelowna, Peachland, the regional district and the Westbank First Nation and B.C. Transit, with the municipal partners’ ¬†portion reduced by revenue raised by fares.

Last year, transit cost $20 million to provide here.

Kelonwa Mayor Colin Basran supported the fare increase saying he did not buy the argument that the hikes would push more people off the bus and back into their cars.

He said while the transit system is good, its not perfect but to make it better more revenue is needed from the fare box.

The municipal partners discussed increasing fares last year and recommended a 16 per cent fare increase instead of the then-recommended 29 per cent increase local transit planners said was needed to achieve the 30 per cent cost recovery.

The fare and pass increases will go into effect in September if supported by the other area local governments.