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Offering free transit on Earth Day would cost $1M, TransLink says

A RapidBus is seen in a handout image supplied by TransLink. A RapidBus is seen in a handout image supplied by TransLink.
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Several cities across B.C. are enjoying free transit for Earth Day – but commuters in Metro Vancouver are still paying their regular fares.

While TransLink encouraged residents of Metro Vancouver to leave their cars at home Monday to cut down on carbon emissions, the company did not offer free rides for doing so.

Meanwhile, BC Transit stopped collecting fares Monday in the Greater Victoria, West Kootenay, Penticton and Whistler transit systems, for both fixed-route and HandyDART services – a discrepancy that was noticed by some Vancouver residents on social media.

"The only things free in this city are the views," one Reddit user wrote.

Asked about the possibility of offering free transit, a TransLink spokesperson told CTV News doing so would contribute to the company's annual funding shortfall – which is forecast to reach an average of $600 million per year as of 2026.

"Free transit for even one weekday would result in approximately $1 million of lost fare revenues, which is used to directly fund transit services in Metro Vancouver," the spokesperson said.

TransLink did urge residents of the region to consider using transit over driving, which the company said can reduce an individual's transportation-related emissions by 80 per cent.

There's also a financial incentive, with transit users saving up to "$8,000 annually when compared to owning and driving a car," according to a TransLink news release. That figure takes into account the purchase price of a vehicle, plus the costs of maintenance, fuel, insurance and parking.

TransLink has a plan to further cut emissions by adding 460 battery-powered electric buses to its fleet by 2030, and a target to reach zero emissions by 2040.

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