Tuesday’s provincial budget did not deliver the two cent per liter fuel tax increase the Victoria Regional Transit Commission was expecting, and so officials there are saying that system expansion plans will be stalled — and transit users might also see service reductions.
VRTC chair Susan Brice says the rejection of the fuel tax increase came as a surprise to her. “The last six months, I’ve been working closely with the minister of finance and the minister of transportation and infrastructure, ensuring we had all the letters of support from all the municipalities in our area, all of the evidence that they wanted that the community would support this gas tax increase”, she said.
The Commission has been after an increase for several years, and based on it showing up, had been planning system expansion including ten new buses and an additional 24,000 hours of service. Now, says Brice, they’ll be putting those plans on hold.
Meanwhile, a statement from the Ministry Of Transportation And Infrastructure indicates that it acknowledges the VRTC’s request to increase the fuel tax to pay for the municipalities’ share of planned transit service expansions and it remains committed to working with BC Transit and the VRTC to ensure there are resources in place to move forward with planned service expansions.
The VRTC’s next meeting is coming up this Tuesday February 28.