Winnipeg city councillors debating future of low-income bus pass

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Winnipeg councilors debating future of low income bus pass
WATCH: A proposed low-income transit pass is slowly making its way through city hall – Feb 5, 2019

Municipal politicians in Winnipeg are mulling the idea of creating a low-cost bus pass for low-income residents, a concept that originally came out of a campaign promise from Mayor Brian Bowman.

In November, a report said the plan was to offer bus passes for 30 per cent off the regular price during the first year of the program, then further reduce the cost of the passes for low-income residents to 50 per cent off.

This week, Winnipeg Transit provided an update on the program to the city’s infrastructure and public works committee.

“We had our first public engagement meeting yesterday. We focused on how best to identify and reach groups with this program,” said Winnipeg Transit finance manager Laurie Fisher.

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It’s still unclear who would qualify to pay the reduced price for a bus pass.

“Also, we talked about the requirements where people would be able to attain in order to be eligible for the program,” said Fisher.

The projected price tag for implementation and operation of the program is upwards of $30 million.

Coun. Jeff Browaty suggests that’s too steep a cost to pass on to taxpayers.

“If you’re going to be doing any consultations at this point, it should be with other levels of government to see if they want to participate in this program,” Browaty said.

St. Boniface Coun. Matt Allard thinks the $30-million cost for the program could potentially be reduced.

“I’m still kind of skeptical about the price tag. I know other cities have done it at much cheaper than what was proposed to us,” he said.

All in all, Browaty thinks transit has its priorities mixed up.

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“What I’m hearing from residents in North Kildonan and even citywide is they aren’t looking for a low-income transit pass, they’re looking for more routes and higher frequency,” he said.

WATCH: Winnipeg Transit is projecting a $7.9-million surplus

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Winnipeg Transit is projecting a $7.9-million surplus

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