Seniors living in Fredericton who ride the bus could see a steep fare hike under a newly proposed fare structure.
The change would get rid of the $50 a year bus pass for riders over the age of 65. It would be replaced by a low-income pass that carries a price tag of $42 per month.
“It’s not that we want to do away with the discount overall. We want to restructure how that discount is offered to make it more equitable and make sure that we’re meeting the needs of those who need that reduction most,” said Meredith Gilbert, the manager of transit and parking with the city of Fredericton.
Riders who don’t qualify for a low-income pass will have to pay $84 per month for a pass.
The move has some seniors begging city planners to pump the brakes.
“Practically everyone who is going to suffer from this is older than who’s making the decision,” said Ephie Carrier, president of Stepping Stone Centre in Fredericton.
“Continue the thing, give them a break that way. Little bits of increases we realize it’s got to be, but this one is big.”
The New Brunswick Seniors Federation (NBSF) says increasing fares will hinder the ability for seniors to get around and could cause financial hardships for a demographic already struggling to make ends meet.
“We have all we can do to get by with what we have, let alone raising the price up for people here in the city of Fredericton where they just cannot afford it. They can’t afford food let alone extra money for passes on the buses,” said Percy Huntington with the federation.
WATCH: Fredericton holds consultations as it looks to change transit
Details on the fare structure are still being worked out and city staff intend to put together a task force that will determine the best approach moving forward.
The fare restructuring report suggests a slew of long and short-term goals that range from airport and Sunday service, to increased security, park-and-ride, as well as the ability to pay with a smart phone.
“I know the people who take the bus to go to and from work … we only have one bus per hour. That could be improved upon,” said rider Clark Greene.
The transit plan will be reviewed on Feb. 11. At that point, councillors will have an opportunity to ask questions, make recommendations and vote on the plan.