Riding transit in Greater Victoria with the new daypass


B.C. Transit has a new way of selling daypasses for the Greater Victoria bus system.

They used to be a card where you scratched off the date to activate it, and were sold in stores.

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But as part of a fare overhaul that rolled out on April 1, daypasses are only sold on buses. There’s no more scratching. And there's no more transfers, which has led to an increase in sales of daypasses.

You board and ask for a daypass; you deposit $5 in coin into the farebox funnel, or slip a $5 bill into a slot. Or, save money by putting two tickets into the slot. A sheet of 10 tickets is $22.50 (sold in stores, not on buses), so that’s $2.25 per ticket, or $4.50 for the daypass, instead of $5 cash.

The driver has a pad of daypasses clipped to a device that used to hold transfers. He or she will rip a daypass off the pad for you once you’ve paid. The daypass is roughly the same size as the old transfer, on heavier paper, with the current day printed on it in big type. WED 06 APR 2016, for example.

With a daypass, you get unlimited rides on that day; show the daypass with the date facing the driver each time you board.

For B.C. Transit, having a unique daypass for each day speeds the selling process. There’s no multi-second delay to scratch off the date, no arguments about a poorly executed scratch. But it must be an inventory challenge, having a new daypass for each day of the year. I asked a driver, “What do you do if you run out?” He said, “I call a supervisor.”

The new daypass system was born out of B.C. Transit’s decision to eliminate transfer slips, citing repeated conflicts between drivers and passengers over whether a transfer was valid or not.

Under the new system (unless you have a monthly pass or U-pass), if a journey requires more than one bus route, you have to either pay a fare each time you board, or buy a daypass at the start of your journey. If you’re going one way — to the ferry terminal or airport, for example — the cost will have doubled because of the need to buy a daypass, instead of a single fare and a transfer.

But, if you’re making a return trip on the same day, the cost is the same as it was before the new fare structure. If you make more than two trips, you save money with a daypass.

Passengers seem to be accepting the new system, if grudgingly. I haven’t witnessed any criticism or arguments about the elimination of transfers as people board, but I know some people are peeved, especially if they are making one-way trips that require riding on more than one route.

An alternative would be something like Metro Vancouver’s computerized Compass card system. But Compass cost many millions of dollars to implement. Slips of paper are much cheaper.

B.C. Transit’s brief daypass explanation.

There’s also a quirky video.

Here’s an overview of the ways you can pay

B.C. Transit's old daypass, which was activated by scratching off the appropriate month and day.
B.C. Transit's old daypass, which was activated by scratching the appropriate year, month, and day. 

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Reader David Waterhouse sent this comment:

My wife and I are seniors on fixed incomes. We used to use B.C. Transit sparingly ... for our medical appointments and the occasional shopping trip downtown. April 1st changed our routine. We're told we can now ride around all day long for five dollars. Why would we? To what end? That is Transit's feeble attempt at reason. It didn't work. April 1st changes for everyone begin with termination of the transfer. It also signals the day when youths and seniors’ tickets are terminated. A one-way trip for us requiring two or more buses goes from $1.50 to $5.00. A two-way trip goes from $3.00 to $5.00. My car is now back on the road. Thanks B.C.  Transit. Totally unacceptable! All seniors are NOT wealthy. Many are just getting by. This is wrong.

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Brenda W. comments:

You mentioned you haven't heard much grumbling about the new bus pass system. We must travel in different circles - mine with families whose kids have to take the bus, either one way (using bus tickets) or both ways (using the student bus pass) - and mine, with a lot of lower income seniors who are wondering how they'll get around.

With the cancellation of seniors and youth bus tickets starting this week, this family of two children would potentially go from paying $3 to $10/day for our kids to take the bus home one way from school. That's a 350% increase.

We wish we didn't have to take the bus at all. We all try to bike whenever we can. One parent bikes all the time. Our kids have very early starts to school, often with equipment. We carpool where we can, and we combine work commutes and schedules to avoid double driving. Our kids bike home when the weather is good or when they don't have very heavy backpacks of textbooks or equipment to take home.

We didn't realize when we bought our house a decade ago in Saanich that our neighbourhood had such limited bus service, and that it wouldn't really improve as the community grew. WE didn't realize that going to much of the city either required two buses or would take over an hour - even more during rush hour (a 10 minute car ride). We didn't know that in the future we'd be charged twice as much as those living in areas with good bus service, to ride buses that take twice as much time to get there, and do so so much less often. We didn't realize that we'd be living in an area about to be swallowed up by a $70m overpass to get Western Communities car traffic back and forth more quickly, while our kids wait for infrequent and infrequent buses and get charged twice as much.

Shouldn't we be encouraging public transit? I thought that was our focus? Shouldn't we be encouraging our next generation to take buses, despite how slow and roundabout they are? (it makes sense for the environment, the economy, quality of life etc. That's what we've been saying) Now we are discouraged. This family will be using another car now, and clogging up roads, adding traffic during peak times, in busy school drop-off/pickup zones and parking lots. We'll let our kids drive to school when they get old enough We apologize, it was not our doing. It'll be cheaper. Schools and neighbourhoods should be voicing their concerns.

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Email me at pjang@timescolonist.com


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