News / Ottawa

Leiper 'doing the math' on Ottawa's low-income transit pass options

OC Transpo's new fare table didn't include a discount pass for the working poor, something one councillor intends to fix at transit commission next week.

Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper wants to find a way to create a low-income transit pass for Ottawa's working poor.

Emma Jackson/Metro

Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper wants to find a way to create a low-income transit pass for Ottawa's working poor.

Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper hopes there’s still time to create a low-income transit pass for Ottawa’s working poor.

OC Transpo staff released options Wednesday for funding a $3.3-million pass out of existing fare revenues, but Transit Commission chairman Stephen Blais has hinted they don't intend to fund it with city money.

“We’ve requested the province pay for a low-income fare, and if they come to the table with those funds, we’d be able to produce one,” Blais said.

That’s not good enough for Leiper, who said he’s “doing the math” on the proposed new fare table, set to come into force next January, to come up with a “palatable alternative” for next week’s commission meeting.

Waiting on provincial money isn’t ideal, Leiper said, given that city’s working poor – who don’t qualify for discount passes - will be saddled with a $7 monthly fare hike next year if the commission accepts staff’s recommendations.

“I’m looking at the higher increase and not seeing the alternative proposal for those who are struggling,” Leiper said. “It seems to exacerbate the situation we’ve heard a lot about.”

OC Transpo general manager John Manconi released three options for funding the pass Wednesday.

The first would cut steeply into other discount rates, like youth and senior passes, except the community pass.

Another would see a 3.7 per cent hike across all monthly passes, and a third option would raise the adult pass 5.2 per cent.

Healthy Transportation Coalition past president Trevor Haché said he hopes the city can “think creatively” before next week to propose options “beyond simply asking other bus riders to pay more.”

Blais said the province should pay because the pass is a means-tested social service.

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