Calgary’s Poorest Will Soon Be Able to Get a Monthly Transit Pass for $5.15

Taking transit isn’t always cheap.

In Toronto, getting to and from work on public transit will set you back $6.50, regardless of the distance travelled.

All those fares can really add up for those on the lower end of the income scale. Of course, there’s the monthly metro pass route, but paying that $141.50 at the beginning of the month at the same time rent is due is a major challenge for some.

Now, Calgary is making it easier for low-income riders to get around.

Come early 2017, those living in extreme poverty will pay just $5.15 for a monthly Calgary Transit pass — a 95 per cent discount off the regular price.

Calgary Transit

Image: CBC

City council unanimously voted in favour yesterday for introducing the new sliding scale.

Depending on a rider’s income, monthly adult bus passes will cost between $5.15 and $51.50 — a discount of between 50 and 95 per cent off the 2017 regular monthly adult bus pass fare.

It currently costs $99 for an adult monthly transit pass. The current subsidized pass for the city’s poorest is $44, regardless of how much they earn.

The new sliding scale means a single rider, who makes half of the poverty line (about $12,000 a year), will pay just $5.15 for a monthly pass.

Calgary Bus

Image: CBC

Someone who makes 85 to 100 per cent of the Low Income Cut-Off will get a 50 per cent discount.

It’s a pretty big deal – and one other cities may want to consider.

“It means that people who are living in real, extreme poverty in our city — and there are many of them — will now pay just over $5 a month to be able to have a transit pass,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi. “And this makes a huge difference in people’s lives. It gets them to medical appointments, to school, to job interviews.”

The new initiative was made possible after the Province of Alberta kicked in $13.5 million of funding over three years for low-income transit passes in May.