For Immediate Release: Thursday, October 23rd, 2011
With a one-month, 3-zone transit pass running at $151.00 per month, taking transit in Vancouver can be a hefty expense. COPE City Council candidate Tim Louis wants to bring that price down through the creation of a ‘community U-pass’, or C-pass as it has been colloquially named, based on the widely used student U-pass.
“Transit in Vancouver can be expensive for some. If we want to encourage people to take public transit, we need to make it an attractive, affordable option,” said Louis. “The student U-pass has been a huge success, lets build on that success by making it available at the community level.”
COPE’s proposal would be an agreement whereby any given neighbourhood would decide as a group whether they wanted to invest in the C-pass. Unlike the U-pass however, individual participation would not be mandatory. The price of the C-pass would be dependant on how many households participate, as well as the amount of transit service that is available to the area. A minimum price point would be determined, meaning that a certain number of households would need to opt in, in order for it to be worthwhile.
“It’s a little bit like bulk-buying transit,” said Louis. “We bulk buy our staple items in order to save money. Public transportation is a staple item for some communities, so lets allow members of those communities to get together, bulk-buy their transit passes for a discounted rate, allow them to save money, and encourage sustainable transportation.”
A similar concept has been developed in Boulder Colorado, called the Nighbourhood Eco pass (NECO pass). As of September 2011 it had been adopted by 40 neighbourhoods.
“It is important that this be a grassroots, locally led initiative. A neighbourhood U-pass may not be right for all neighbourhoods, but we want to make sure that it is available to those that are interested in it,” said Louis. “You can count on COPE to put neighbourhoods first, by promoting community leadership and initiatives.”
COPE would also like to work with city planners on lowering minimum parking requirements for some new condominium developments, in exchange for providing residents with transit passes. Similar initiatives have already been adopted in Toronto and are being considered in both Surrey and Ottawa. “In some housing developments it makes a lot more sense for strata fees to go towards a bus pass than a parking spot, especially in developments close to transit hubs. COPE wants to encourage this type of sustainable development,” said Louis.
“If we really want to live up to our greenest city goals by 2020, we need to make sure that environmentally sustainable forms of transportation become the primary mode of transport for most Vancouverites,” said Louis. “You can count on COPE to create a Vancouver for everyone, by creating affordable, viable public transportation.”