Starting in September, Regional District of Nanaimo Transit will do away with paper transfers for bus riders. (News Bulletin file)

RDN Transit to do away with paper transfers in September

Day passes will be sold on Nanaimo buses for $5, good for two directions of travel

Discontinuation of the paper bus transfer system and decreasing HandyDart fares will be among changes coming from Regional District of Nanaimo Transit in September.

Currently, 70-minute transfers for one direction are issued when paying cash fare, but this will be eliminated effective Sept. 3, after the regional district and B.C. Transit, its funding partner, conducted a fare review in January and February.

A regional district staff report said transfer removal could improve driver safety. Between January 2016 and May 2017, there were “590 confrontations regarding fares,” with four confirmed as assaults on operators.

Daniel Pearce, regional district manager of transit operations, said a system identical to one in Victoria will be employed in Nanaimo.

“Day passes will be sold on board, so riders will have a choice of either paying [$2.50] or on board they’ll be able to purchase a day pass for $5,” said Pearce. “All our other fare products, such as monthly passes, will still be [available] from our fare locations, but the biggest change will be that instead of getting a transfer that was only good for one direction, it’s going to be either you pay your cash fare for one direction or just buy a day pass and you can use it all day long.”

HandyDart fares will decrease to $2.50 from the current $3.50.

“Depending on the fares of HandyDart, it depends on if they’re buying larger sheets of 10 tickets or 20 tickets, the rate’s going to be harmonized with the exact same rate as the conventional rate at $2.50 and the principle behind that is that we’re being equitable to our riders, so depending on whether you’re able to use the large conventional system or unable to, using HandyDart, you’re still paying the same fare,” Pearce said.

Monthly bus passes will see price decreases as well – passes for adults will cost $65, university students will pay $50 and seniors and youth passes will be $40.

A semester pass for university students will be $170.

Children 14 years old and younger currently ride for free on weekends, but effective Sept. 3, that will apply to any time of day throughout the week. As long as there is one paying adult, two children can ride for free, Pearce said.

Cash fares will be $2.50 across the board, even for youths and seniors.