News / Halifax

Low-income transit project moves ahead a stop in Halifax

The bylaw passed first reading Tuesday, and would see 500 residents accepted

A Halifax Transit bus

Metro file

A Halifax Transit bus

Low-income people in Halifax are a step closer to being able to access reduced-rate transit.

During the regional council meeting Tuesday, By-law U-100 (the User Charges By-Law) passed first reading unanimously. The bylaw would implement a low income transit pass pilot program of 500 residents whose family income falls below $31,000 a year and aren’t receiving transit passes through other government assistance.

“This has been a bit of a long time coming,” Coun. Jennifer Watts said during the meeting, citing council’s 2014 decision to create the pilot program.

“Social assistance in this province is … totally inadequate and desperate for many people. That is the reality.”

Those participating in the program will be able to purchase monthly adult transit passes for 50 per cent off the regular price, and 500 spots will be selected on a first come, first served basis.

Many councillors said they would have liked to see the pilot accept more than 500 people, since the need is so great. Transit staff said about 34,000 residents fall below the income cut-off line. About 8,000 get transportation subsidies under social assistance, so roughly 25,000 people could be eligible for the pilot.

Halifax Transit staff said the 500 number was picked because staff felt most comfortable handling that amount of applications with current staff levels.

Coun. Waye Mason said he hopes the pilot follows Victoria, B.C. where that city found a low income pass brought new riders into the transit system adding added a quarter million dollars in new revenue, and they used the bus during off-peak times.

Coun. Russell Walker said he was glad to see the pilot moving ahead after a “long, slow start,” but added he hopes to eventually see a low-income pass that would match the UPass $162 for nine months, rather than just 50 per cent of the adult fare which would still be about $480 per year.

The bylaw comes back to council for second reading later in June, and if passed staff said residents can likely begin to apply for the program in July. The six-month program itself would begin this September.

Low-income people in Halifax are a step closer to being able to access reduced-rate transit.

During the regional council meeting Tuesday, By-law U-100 (the User Charges By-Law) passed first reading unanimously. The bylaw would implement a low income transit pass pilot program of 500 residents whose family income falls below $31,000 a year and aren’t receiving transit passes through other government assistance.

“This has been a bit of a long time coming,” Coun. Jennifer Watts said during the meeting, citing council’s 2014 decision to create the pilot program.

“Social assistance in this province is … totally inadequate and desperate for many people. That is the reality.”

Those participating in the program will be able to purchase monthly adult transit passes for 50 per cent off the regular price, and 500 spots will be selected on a first come, first served basis.

Many councillors said they would have liked to see the pilot accept more than 500 people, since the need is so great. Transit staff said about 34,000 residents fall below the income cut-off line. About 8,000 get transportation subsidies under social assistance, so roughly 25,000 people could be eligible for the pilot.

Halifax Transit staff said the 500 number was picked because staff felt most comfortable handling that amount of applications with current staff levels.

Coun. Waye Mason said he hopes the pilot follows Victoria, B.C. where that city found a low income pass brought new riders into the transit system adding added a quarter million dollars in new revenue, and they used the bus during off-peak times.

Coun. Russell Walker said he was glad to see the pilot moving ahead after a “long, slow start,” but added he hopes to eventually see a low-income pass that would match the UPass $162 for nine months, rather than just 50 per cent of the adult fare which would still be about $480 per year.

The bylaw comes back to council for second reading later in June, and if passed staff said residents can likely begin to apply for the program in July. The six-month program itself would begin this September.

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