When Summerland’s scheduled transit service begins it will be offered at no cost to the riders for the remainder of this year.
While other communities have a two-week introductory period when transit fares are waived, Summerland is extending the free service period considerably.
The goal in providing this free offer is to get people on the bus, in the hope that they will continue to use the service when the fees are introduced.
It’s a great deal for the riders, but the municipality must pick up the additional costs.
For November and December, this cost is estimated at $9,000.
The money is noticeable, but as a portion of the overall municipal budget, it is quite small. Summerland’s entire budget for 2013 is $28.66 million
Furthermore, the money will come out of the municipality’s Climate Action fund. This is money which has already been set aside for environmentally friendly initiatives.
Certain funding received by the municipality is tied in to the community’s ongoing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
More importantly, the initial free ride may result in more bus riders in the future, This would save money for the community.
When riders pay fares to use the bus, they offset the money the municipality would have to set aside for the community’s share of the bus.
The investment we make now will pay off in the future and for that reason alone, the free service makes a lot of sense.
The addition of a transit service is a significant change in the community and it will likely take some time for the public to get used to the routines of bus schedules.
Any initiatives to make this transition period easy will benefit us all in the long term.