Transit Commission approves 2019 OC Transpo draft budget

The Transit Commission approved the 2019 OC Transpo draft budget Wednesday.

It includes a 3.5 per cent hike to the transit levy and a 2.5 per cent increase in fares starting on Canada Day.

The increase has been met with criticism by transit riders saying that the increase in fares doesn't coincide with quality of service provided. Something Transit Manager John Manconi agrees with. 

"The system has not been reliable." said Manconi. "Everybody is raising that with me, and I'm not denying it. It is not a reliable system right now."

Manconi says that LRT will help solve concerns over transit. 

"Reliability will go up once the train system goes up. Not just on the train but also on bus routes because those routes won't have to go into the (downtown) core and be stuck in traffic." 

Manconi remains skeptical however that L-R-T will be ready by March 31st. 

He also pushed back against comments about ridership being down, saying it was up 1 per cent in 2018, despite construction delays and detours. He projects another 1.5 per cent increase this year.

But the roughly 97.8 million trips expected this year will still fall well below the 2011 peak of 103.5 million.

The draft budget goes to council on March 6th.

With files from CTV's Megan Shaw