Cowichan bus fares going up

The cost of riding the bus both in the Cowichan Valley and from Cowichan to Victoria will be going up Oct. 1. But there’s good news for some riders as well, as the Cowichan Valley Regional Transit System is also adding a number of runs and routes to the existing service.

For students and seniors fares within the Cowichan Valley will increase from $1.75 to $2. The cost of a 10-ticket package will go up for adults from $16 to $18, and for seniors and students from $13.50 to $15.

DayPASS tickets will go up for students and seniors from $3.25 to $4. MonthlyPASS costs remain the same. Semester passes will go up from $112 to $115.

The cost of using Handydart will actually go down from $2.25 to $2 for both registered users and companions. A sheet of five tickets will go from $11.25 to $10.

"Pretty modest increases," said Meribeth Burton, BC Transit spokesperson, pointing out that fares have not gone up in four years, while costs of things like fuel have continued to increase.

Riders on the commuter bus from the Cowichan Valley to Victoria will see the biggest fare increases.

A single cash trip will go from $7 to $8, but 10 zone A tickets will go from $63 to $72 and a zone A commuter pass jumps from $165 to $192. Zone B commuter passes rise from $200 to $232.

"There hasn’t really been a fare change since the service was introduced in 2008," Burton explained. Fares are determined by the Cowichan Valley Regional District board.

As for the new runs and routes, they range from South Cowichan to Lake Cowichan and Cowichan Commons.

South Cowichan will see new service to Cowichan Station and the Braithwaite area, and more service to Arbutus Ridge. There will also be more direct two-way routing to major destinations on new Routes 8 and 9, which will replace Routes 10, 12 and 15.

In the Lake Cowichan area there will be new service to Cowichan Commons and on-request services to Youbou and Honeymoon Bay.

Duncan and North Cowichan will see increased service to Cowichan Commons and new service to the Boys Road area east of Highway 1 and the northern portion of Chemainus Road to Highway 1. For Handydart customers, 2,500 hours of new service per year will be added. Introductory service will start in Ladysmith on Tuesdays and Fridays, while service hours will expand in the rest of the Valley.

The changes come out of an "intense" bout of public consultation last fall with riders and stakeholder groups, Burton said.

"Areas like Cowichan Commons, people told us over and over again that they felt like because it’s a relatively new area we weren’t covering it as well as they’d like," she said.

They looked at what areas were being well-serviced and which were not, as well as which runs were being most used.

"It’s not a cheap service to run and we need to be using our resources wisely," said Burton.