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City increases bus fare

Riding the bus is going to cost an extra 50 cents if the Whitehorse budget is passed.The fare is rising to $2.

Riding the bus is going to cost an extra 50 cents if the Whitehorse budget is passed.

The fare is rising to $2.50 from $2, said Mayor Bev Buckway on Monday.

This is to cover increasing costs and will also allow the city to increase its bus service, she said.

A new downtown bus loop with service every 15 to 20 minutes will be given a six-month trial.

The loop will connect the downtown with the college, Canada Games Centre, and the Chilkoot Centre.

Also, the current 50-minute break during peak hours at the end of the day will be eliminated.

The break in service was caused by stipulations in union contracts and will be covered by hiring new drivers.

While creating this year’s budget, council actually discussed cutting the city’s transit service.

Getting rid of a whole department would have freed up a lot of money for the city, said Buckway

“But we feel that that would be taking away a valuable service.”

Instead, council chose to raise bus rates to match rates to those in Yellowknife and spend $450,000 over the next four years on bus replacement.

Adult bus passes will see a rise from $50 to $62, youth passes will be $40 and senior and disabled passes will be $26.

The rate increase won’t cause residents to use the service any less, said director of administrative services Robert Fendrick.

“We find that frequency of service and service interruptions are what cause the most frustration.”

Councillor Doug Graham, who abstained from the first vote on the budget, said bus fares should be cut rather than increased.

“I think if we put more money into transit we could really have a great system,” he said.

“But we have to combine it with some other things that discourage people from driving their vehicles.”

A cut in fares would do this, as would increasing the cost of parking downtown.

“I’m not saying that that’s necessarily the direction that we want to take, but if we’re going to do it we might as well do it properly.”