Travelling between downtown Vancouver and North Vancouver on the SeaBus ferry could become significantly cheaper if TransLink’s plan for distance-travelled fares are approved.
Earlier this week, the public transit authority unveiled its proposed model for implementing a new fare system that would be based on the distance travelled, abandoning the existing three-zone system.
SkyTrain and SeaBus services would use this new fare system while buses will remain a one-zone flat fare.
For SeaBus, single-trip fares will be slashed considerably. Currently, adult passengers pay a two-zone fare of $4.10 with cash or $3.25 with the Compass Card’s stored value. However, with distance-travelled fare pricing in effect, trips on the SeaBus will cost just $2.20, which is the base fare of the new fare scheme.
The base fare covers the travelling distance of up to five km before fares incrementally rise for each additional km travelled. But the SeaBus route at just three km long is under the threshold, which means passengers will not have to pay for any incremental rates.
Passengers taking the buses over the Lions Gate Bridge or Ironworkers Memorial Bridge already benefit from a regional flat bus fare that was implemented in 2015, and this will be retained under the new system.
There will also be changes to the monthly pass system, as it will switch over to a monthly, pre-paid pass that covers a selected distance.
If the distance-travelled fare system is approved by TransLink’s Mayors’ Council and Board of Directors, it could go into effect as early as sometime next year.
Approximately 17,000 boardings are recorded on SeaBus on an average weekday, and last year the service recorded a ridership of 5.84 million passengers, representing a 7.3% increase over 2016.
The ferry route began 15-minute frequencies until 9 pm daily last year, and this will increase to every 10 minutes during peak hours starting next year when a new $34-million SeaBus vessel, the fourth vessel in the fleet, arrives and begins service.
A $17-million renovation and expansion project of Waterfront Station’s SeaBus terminal is currently underway to help accommodate future ridership growth. Additional minor upgrades to the terminal could be made if TransLink and the Port of Vancouver allow Island Ferry Services to use the facility as their downtown Vancouver dock for the company’s new high-speed commuter ferry service to downtown Nanaimo.