November 20, 2018 1:39 pm
Updated: November 20, 2018 6:13 pm

Busload of options for low-income transit passes available across Canada

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A low-income bus pass has taken its first steps toward becoming reality in Winnipeg.

The public works committee at Winnipeg’s city council helped the bus pass clear the first hurdle, voting Tuesday to make the proposal part of 2019’s budget deliberations.

Winnipeg is hardly the first large Canadian city to take on an affordable bus proposal.

READ MORE: Low-income bus pass could benefit 13,000 Winnipeggers a year, says report

Several cities currently offer affordable bus programs, although the way those programs are implemented differs from city to city.

Edmonton

The Ride Transit Program, in partnership with the Alberta government, offers eligible Edmontonians a discounted monthly bus pass at $35.

Eligible residents include people receiving CPP disability, income support benefits, Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) benefits, permanent residents and refugee claimants, and people whose household income is at or below the cut-off amount.

Edmonton’s cut-off for one person is an annual income of $25,338, with additional cut-off levels for households of up to seven people.

Calgary

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Calgary’s Low Income Monthly Pass is offered on a sliding scale, which assigns a price based on income. The less an applicant earns, the less they need to pay.

There are three categories, with the lowest making bus passes available for just over $5 – if your income is less than $12,669 a year.

The other categories offer passes for $36.05 and $51.50.

Calgary’s Fair Entry program also allows people to apply for a number of other low-income discounts, including recreation fees and property tax rebates.

Saskatoon

Council is expected to award a contract worth $3 million to enhance Saskatoon’s bus system and complete rapid transit planning.

Saskatoon’s Low-Income Bus Pass program is also based on household income, with discounted prices available for adults ($66.40), high school students ($47.20), and children ($40).

READ MORE: The impact of transit design on health and well-being

Applicants are accepted on an annual basis and need to re-apply each year.

Ottawa

OC Transpo’s EquiPass is a reduced fare available in Ottawa as a monthly pass or per-ride fare. Both monthly passes ($58.25) and individual fares ($1.75) are about half the cost of regular adult prices.

A one-person household below $20,675 qualifies, with income cut-offs for households up to seven people or more.

Seniors and people receiving the Ontario Disability Support Benefits aren’t encouraged to apply for an EquiPass, as OC Transpo’s Community and Senior passes are already cheaper than an EquiPass.

Halifax

The Halifax low income transit pass program was launched in July 2018, and is limited to 1,000 qualified applicants.

People with a combined gross household income below $33,000 qualify, and receive a 50 per cent discount on monthly passes.

A regular adult pass of $78 drops to $39 under the program.

READ MORE: Free transit for veterans, military on Remembrance Day now permanent in Winnipeg

There are also discounted programs in Kingston and Windsor, Ont., among other cities.

WATCH: City of Winnipeg will ‘decommission’ Portage Place bus shelter

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