Report suggests Edmonton Transit discounts should be based on income, not age

An Edmonton Transit System bus.
An Edmonton Transit System bus. File/Global News

A new report projects some seniors getting caught in the squeeze as Edmonton Transit sets new priorities on who should get a fare discount. ETS is working towards a new fare policy for 2020 and it is proposing that more groups than seniors should get discounts.

The report, released Thursday, also proposes that the ranges of those discounts be narrower, and that they be based on income.

The report bases its new calculations on how much it costs to run the transit system and proposes that 40-45 per cent of those costs get recovered in fares.

READ MORE: Edmonton transit fares going up Feb. 1

Councillor Andrew Knack admits it’s a philosophical change.

“The suggestion is that instead of a blanket rate for every senior across the city, they’re suggesting we focus our subsidies on anyone who is low income.”

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He said it means some subsidies would be dropped.

“Seniors, adults, youth, everyone in those categories should have the focus of the subsidy, and then anyone that is not in those lower income ranges, then they’d have to pay a higher fee.”

READ MORE: Low-income transit pass to benefit more Edmontonians than originally planned

The administration is converting the subsidy plan so that when the new Transit Strategy is put in place some time next year, riders will see a lower price for short trips and a higher one for cross-town excursions, but still at a price point that’s cheaper than taking the car.

It’s seniors, however, who’ll see the biggest change.

“Potentially,” agreed Knack. “If we adopt that proposal as is. On paper there would be some logic to that.”

READ MORE: Edmonton Transit Service’s cash-only fare system lags behind other cities

Knack points out that seniors ride at times other than peak periods so they are not an expensive burden on the system, compared to those who catch the bus during rush hour.

Seniors now pay what amounts to $186 a year, which is roughly $15.50 a month, at about 15 per cent of the full fare. The proposed new system would see them paying 35 per cent of the full fare, which works out to $41 a month, for a total of $492.

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The 35 per cent is an interim step to help seniors. Eventually the price point will hit 65 per cent of the full price, which is $67 a month, and $804 a year.

The changes are not expected to come in until next year and will then be revised again once city staff begin working towards bringing in the smart fare system, which will be based on the length of your trip.

WATCH BELOW (March 14, 2018): Children under the age of 13 will soon be able to ride Edmonton transit for free if they are with a fare-paying adult. Kendra Slugoski reports.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton looking into offering more free transit for kids' Edmonton looking into offering more free transit for kids
Edmonton looking into offering more free transit for kids – Mar 14, 2018

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