REGINA – Both the provincial and municipal governments confirmed their continued financial support of the Discounted Bus Pass program today.
“Transportation is vital. it’s a vital link to be included in society,” said Mark Docherty, MLA for Regina Coronation Park. “This is a gateway out of your home in order to be a full citizen and engaged in the city and the province.”
The program was started in 2003. Its current incarnation lowers the monthly bus pass cost from $62 to $20, a savings of about $500 a year. In Regina, the province covers about 40 per cent, while the city and clients pay the rest.
“It’s a quality of life issue. Otherwise, these individuals may not get to the sporting events they want to go to, or, again, to the doctor’s office, to see their friends,” said Mayor Michael Fougere.
Docherty and Fougere say they take the bus 1-2 and 3-4 times a year, respectively.
Carmichael Outreach volunteer Marline Chervinski isn’t eligible for the discount.
“Right now I’m just stuck, and I have to depend on friends [for car rides] and stuff,” said the pensioner.
To be eligible for the discount, people need to be participating in at least one of these provincial government programs: Social Assistance, Transitional Employment Allowance, Saskatchewan Employment Supplement, Provincial Training allowance, or Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability.
That requirement can be a problem for those just over the qualifying cut-off.
“There’s people that don’t make the welfare lines, like low-income families that need assistance with transportation and everything like that,” said Mike Zylak, Events and Fundraising Coordinator at Carmichael. “The more people can be involved, the better.”
But even if the eligibility requirements were more lax, most Carmichael clients still couldn’t afford the $20 pass.
The province put in $1.6 million for 2014-2015 program, which is being used by seven cities.