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

Winnipeg councillors are preparing to debate the merits of a low-income bus pass Tuesday night, but they’re hardly the first large Canadian city to take on such a proposal.

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

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

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).

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.

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


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