Calgary Transit fares increase as ridership struggles to rebound

Click to play video: 'Calgary Transit fares increase as ridership struggles to rebound'
Calgary Transit fares increase as ridership struggles to rebound
WATCH: It will cost a bit more to ride Calgary Transit in the New Year as the service announced a fee increase. As Adam MacVicar reports, the increase in fares came as a surprise to some members of the new city council – Dec 6, 2021

It will cost Calgarians a bit more to ride on the city’s transit network as fares are set to increase this year.

Starting in 2022, a single adult ticket will cost $3.60, up 10 cents from the previous year.

Youth single tickets will jump five cents to $2.45.

Monthly passes will see increases of $3 and will cost $112 for adults and $82 for youth; the increase to monthly youth passes took effect in September.

The cost of low-income passes will jump from as little as 15 cents to just under $2 depending on the ticket holder’s income.

The annual senior pass will cost $150, which is up $5 from the year prior.

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Click to play video: 'Calgary transit union president warns of service disruptions related to city vaccination policy'
Calgary transit union president warns of service disruptions related to city vaccination policy

The increase in fees came as a surprise to Coun. Kourtney Penner, after no mention of an increase to transit fares during the city’s budget adjustments last month.

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The Ward 11 representative asked about the fare increase during question period at Monday’s city council meeting after she learned about the fee increase from residents in her area via social media on Sunday.

“I raised it because it was something we didn’t receive advance notification of as a council team,” Penner said. “I think what’s really important is just how do we communicate as a city, having that strategic approach where we all have aligned communication so that we can better communicate with residents about what they can expect from the city?”

According to the city’s general manager of transportation, Doug Morgan, it was a “difficult decision” to raise transit fares for next year.

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Council heard the adjustment to fares was approved by the previous council in 2020. following a freeze in increases to fees for 2021.

“We did freeze fares back for 2021 and slid all of our planned fare increases back to provide relief during the pandemic,” Morgan said.

Calgary Transit is currently operating at 83 per cent of normal service levels with just 45 per cent of pre-pandemic ridership, which has created a “significant” revenue shortfall for the transit service.

Morgan told council that Calgary Transit’s long-term strategy is to generate as much as 50 per cent of its operating costs through revenue streams like fares. But the service continues to be hampered with increased costs.

“Even with full ridership, if that was to return in January, our costs continue to increase for things like fuel, electricity, parts and contracts,” Morgan told council.

“We’re trying to balance funding for transit with increased costs.”

Click to play video: 'Calgary man ticketed on SkyTrain despite paying fare'
Calgary man ticketed on SkyTrain despite paying fare

Penner told reporters Monday that she would’ve preferred to see the fare increases included in the 2022 budget adjustments.

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“I’m very sympathetic to the challenges transit has faced through COVID… I think we need to ask ourselves, what kind of city do we want to be in? How do we want to incentivize transit use?” Penner said.

“We do need to be sensitive in listening to our residents. So the timing, I think, just has felt a little bit off. I would have been happy to ask for another freeze.”

Transit officials told council that communication of the fare increases began last Monday, but the organization was unable to send a briefing note to councillors prior to the weekend.

More on the Calgary Transit fare increases can be found here.

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