News / Edmonton

Edmonton's low-income transit pass to be released by fall 2017

Province and city team up to slash more than half the cost of transit for those on the margins

Edmonton residents who have low incomes are often dependent on transit to get to work but struggle to afford the cost of a monthly pass.

Metro file

Edmonton residents who have low incomes are often dependent on transit to get to work but struggle to afford the cost of a monthly pass.

An estimated 20,000 low-income residents in Edmonton will get a 60 per cent break on their monthly bus-pass costs starting in the fall of 2017 — a savings of about $55 off the current $90 fee and, according to some, a significant boost for many in making ends meet.  

The Alberta government and City of Edmonton announced the $12.4-million pilot project Thursday, a joint venture that will see Alberta's Human Services department contribute $6.2 million over three years to help meet the needs of the city’s most vulnerable population, according to Mayor Don Iveson.

“When low income residents have to choose between food, rent and transit, this will lessen that burden — we’ll see a benefit right away,” he said.

Eligibility for the low-income transit pass will be based on 100 per cent of the province's Low-income Cut-Off rate, which is $24,600 in annual income for one person, or $45,712 for a household income with four residents.

Renee Vaugeois, co-chair of the city's working group on transportation and housing, said offering the reduced-rate pass is a simple thing that can help people significantly. 

"Everyone has the right to get around and fully participate in society," she said. "For many, it’s difficult to hold onto a full-time job without transit, so this is a step in the right direction.”

The pass is also key to connecting families to community supports and resources, said Irfan Sabir, the minister of Human Services.

“It will be easier for families to get around the city to jobs and school, and to access health care and government services," he said. "We want everyone to have the opportunity to benefit from and participate in community life."

Iveson said the pass is essentially a targeted subsidy that uses public dollars to assist the working poor in offsetting what is often a large chunk of their income that is dedicated to getting around.

That very approach is a key recommendation for End Poverty Edmonton, Iveson added.

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