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Transit riders pre-pay to save money

More transit riders are keeping their coins and instead paying with cheaper pre-paid tickets or passes to save money.

Monthly pass sales are up 11 per cent in the first two months of 2008, according to TransLink.

The trend away from cash fare payment isn’t new, but officials say it has accelerated so far this year.

That’s not unexpected, because fare increases that took effect Jan. 1 pushed up cash fares more than 12 per cent, while books of tickets or monthly passes went up a more modest 5.3 per cent.

Passengers who buy pre-paid FareSaver tickets now save 24 per cent – anywhere from 60 cents off the one-zone $2.50 cash fare to $1.20 off the $5 three-zone fare.

“Our customers get a significant discount over the price of a cash fare and have the convenience of getting on board without needing change to feed the farebox,” TransLink chair Dale Parker said.

He noted monthly pass holders can also claim the new federal transit pass tax credit, and they enjoy unlimited travel.

Parker said while the transit fare increase is generally in line with inflation over the last three years since the previous fare hike in 2005, discount ticket and pass prices were held below the rate of inflation to try to encourage more regular transit use.

The sharpest increase in monthly pass sales so far this year is for three-zone passes, suggesting more demand for cross-regional travel between places like Vancouver and Surrey/Langley.

jnagel@surreyleader.com

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