News / Calgary

Calgary Transit seeking feedback from seniors about new transit plan

Whether it's by bus or CTrain, transit officials want to know why the city's mature residents do or don't choose to ride

Marnie Bober, left, Muriel Mantley, Linda Earl and Marlene Monilaws stand in front of the Confederation Park 55+ Activity Centre.

Helen Pike / Metro

Marnie Bober, left, Muriel Mantley, Linda Earl and Marlene Monilaws stand in front of the Confederation Park 55+ Activity Centre.

Like many of her friends, Muriel Mantley relies on public transit for one or two trips a week—and wants the city to know seniors are a major source of revenue for Calgary Transit.

"I want Calgary Transit to make it a point to realize the population of seniors is way up there," she said. "I personally don't want anything for free because I'm a senior, but they've got to understand as far as numbers, we're way up there and we give revenue every time we go to the mall, we should be number one."

City council has asked transit to look at how they can best serve city seniors who take the bus or CTrain, as transit officials get ready to make some decisions about funding.

In 2016, a review of the system proposed changing the seniors pass from a $99 annual fee to a $65 monthly pass – but councillors were wary of the move, and asked for more consultation before any steps were being taken.

Now, Sherri Zickefoose, a spokesperson for Calgary Transit, told Metro that officials are working on a new business plan and budget that will go before council later this year.

In preparation, they started gathering feedback from seniors--online, in person and on the phone--about how the buses are working for them. In order to understand how transit is used by the aging community Metro went to the Confederation Park +55 Activity Centre to talk to members.

Marnie Bober, who refers to herself as a keenager, said she mostly takes taxis right now, but sometimes takes Calgary Transit with her walker and oxygen tank in tow. She'd like to see more transit schedules at neighbourhood stops.

But for some, taking a bus isn't currently an option. Linda Earl said she drives because walking to the stop nearest to her house is too difficult.

"It's the waiting and the distance in between stops," Earl said, noting she has access to a vehicle. "I am 73, so that could change drastically anytime."

She said if she couldn't drive she would probably resort to taking access or having a friend drive her.

Suzanne Wishart is in a similar boat, she has MS and doesn't qualify for Calgary Transit Access, but can't use regular transit in the winter when it's tough to navigate the sidewalks to bus stops.

Zickefoose, the transit spokesperson, said it's been two years since Calgary Transit talked to seniors about fares, but added engagement this time is more wide-ranging.

"We want to know how they're using transit if they're not using transit why," said Zickefoose. "Part of that has to do with cost, part of that has to do with ease of use."

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