May 7, 2014 4:16 pm
Updated: May 7, 2014 8:53 pm

Less costly transit pass suggested for lower income Edmontonians


EDMONTON – The transit advisory board recommended Wednesday that a less expensive pass for the Edmonton Transit System (ETS) should be available to low income passengers.

If accepted by city council, the monthly pass would cost $35. That is the amount paid by people on AISH (Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped) for their monthly pass.

The proposal suggests the new pass would cost less than half the amount of the current adult monthly pass, which sits at $89.

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The transit advisory board’s report found that low income residents rely more on public transit.

“I think council would like to find a low-income transit pass program that can work and get it in place in a reasonable period of time,” said Mayor Don Iveson.

He believes that would be around January.

“I’m all for this idea,” said Councillor Michael Oshry, “but we have to make sure we have the money for it first.”

He likes the idea, but has concerns about balancing all the needs of the city.

“There’s way more needs than we have the money for. And so, we have to be careful, and prioritize, and figure out where the right way is to spend the money, and making sure we can afford it, and balancing that with potential tax increases or not.”

Iveson doesn’t expect the cost to be too high.

“I think the cost for this will actually be quite modest. In a $300 million transit budget, we’re talking about a couple of million dollars.”

Several community members spoke to council, including students and those new to Edmonton.

“It provides all sorts of socio-economic benefits,” said Bruce Robertson, chair of the Edmonton Transit System Advisory Board, of the low-cost transit pass.

“This will improve the lives of thousands of people in the city of Edmonton, and that will improve the city itself.”

“We’re very happy with the support from council and the support from the community,” Robertson added. “We hope, given the councillors comments, that this actually will be ready for January 2015.”

On Wednesday, Council asked administration to provide a report to the transportation committee on the following issues related to introducing a low income bus pass:

–          Rider selection criteria

–          How it aligns with The Ways and Council initiatives

–          What are the individual and societal benefits of providing the low income bus bus

–          Potential for revenue from increased ridership

–          The cost of a 35 per cent, 50 per cent, and 60 per cent discount

–          Funding options, including potential provincial funding sources, to implement a three-year pilot project

The report is due back to council later this year.

© 2014 Shaw Media

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