News / Calgary

Calgary councillors move towards sliding scale lower-income transit pass

Calgary's lower-income transit users could have a deeper discount depending on their income level in 2017

Mary Salvani uses her low-income transit pass to get to work and class.

Jennifer Friesen/ for Metro

Mary Salvani uses her low-income transit pass to get to work and class.

Councillors are slowly moving towards a sliding scale for lower-income transit pass holders.

On Wednesday, a city committee voted in favour of adopting a new “banded” system for lower-income pass users that would change the current $44 pass to a sliding scale dependent on income.

If approved at the council level, this could deepen the current discount for pass holders up to 95 per cent based on their income for 2017.

Several stakeholders came forward from various organizations to speak on behalf of lowering the pass further, and offering those just outside of the low income cut-offs (LICO), and implementing the discounts immediately.

“I’m living in a place in Bowness where even though my rent is affordable, all the services are fairly expensive,” said Nigel Kirk, speaking on behalf of himself. He explained that Transit was a necessity for him. “I’m on Alberta Works…the fact is, what I have left over after I pay my rent almost all goes to groceries.”

He said once that money is dried up he has to find bus tickets because the low-income pass is just out of reach.

This was just one of many stories about those who could use the low-income pass if the discount was scaled down.

Doug Morgan, Calgary Transit director said it was heartening to hear how important the low-income pass is and he’s excited to bring feedback to his staff.

Coun. Brian Pincott, moved a motion to amend administration’s recommendations and further deepen the discount from 85 per cent to 95 per cent. It passed unanimously, which will make the pass for lowest earners about $5 a month.

“Let’s make the commitment that we take it to the most vulnerable in our community and make it truly accessible for everybody, recognizing, again, that this is a step to where we need to get to,” said Pincott.

Administration’s approach to deepen, but not widen the low-income subsidy was paired with the consideration that in three years the province’s recently promised $4.5 million in funding could run out. But, as the report indicated, there’s still further to go in amending the program to make fares accessible.

More on