Extending free transit bad in the long run: mayor – Metro US

Extending free transit bad in the long run: mayor

Mayor Larry O’Brien won’t be supporting any motions to extend free transit service for riders, if it means property taxpayers will end up paying for it in the long run.

On Monday, city staff predicted the OC Transpo would run a $13.4-million deficit in order to offer free service to all passengers until the end of February, make December passes valid for March and suspend EcoPass deductions until the end of April.

But extending free transit service would substantially increase a burden that could end up be passed on to taxpayers, O’Brien said yesterday.

“We really have to be careful about this, because we really will not see what that number truly is, until the end of the fiscal year,” he said.

O’Brien said it was possible that the strike could result in a one-time tax increase of 1.3 per cent for 2010, but it was too early to accurately determine how that will affect the end of year budget.

“By the time we get to the budget process of this year, we’ll have a better feel of what 2010 will look like in terms of ridership,” he said.