BC Transit’s plan to expand multiple West Shore routes is on hold due to the province’s rejection of the organization’s request for increased funding from the gasoline tax.
Planned West Shore improvements included an extension of both the UVic/Royal Roads route (39) and the Colwood-Dockyards route (25) into Langford’s Westhills neighbourhood.
Existing routes, including the 57 and 58, were tabbed to make use of a new Westhills exchange, but that project’s status is unclear following a failure to secure more funds.
The request, which BC Transit has been making since 2008, was to have the tax increased from 3.5 cents per litre to 5.5 cents per litre. With 12 of 13 municipalities on board – only Metchosin declined to support the gas tax increase – B.C. Transit felt confident the request would be honoured and the West Shore expansion plans were made as a result of that confidence.
“We’re sort of at plan B and the expansion plans are on hold and we’re now looking at trying to protect all of the service that we currently run,” said Susan Brice, Greater Victoria Transit Commission chair. “That, in itself, is a challenge.”
In the Capital Region, two thirds of the funding for BC Transit comes from local governments, with the remaining third contributed by the province. Funding comes from property taxes, fares and the regional gas tax.
According to Brice, most community systems in the province are funded equally by the province and municipalities.
“If we’re not going to have an increase in the gas tax, we may have to have some discussions with the province to put us on the same footing as the rest of B.C.,” she said.