October 20, 2018

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Winnipeggers support low-income bus passes despite cost: poll

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Most Winnipeggers support the concept of a low-income bus pass, even if that means a significant cost to city hall.

A new poll commissioned by the union that represents most employees at Winnipeg Transit found nearly eight in 10 respondents strongly, or moderately, support the concept of a low-income bus pass.

Aleem Chaudhary said the results should move city hall to take action.

“It’s a simple message: the public supports a low-income bus pass,” the president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505 said.

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Most Winnipeggers support the concept of a low-income bus pass, even if that means a significant cost to city hall.

A new poll commissioned by the union that represents most employees at Winnipeg Transit found nearly eight in 10 respondents strongly, or moderately, support the concept of a low-income bus pass.

Aleem Chaudhary said the results should move city hall to take action.

"It’s a simple message: the public supports a low-income bus pass," the president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505 said.

According to the Probe Research survey:

• Nearly eight in 10 respondents (79 per cent) support a low-income bus pass, at a discounted cost to those riders for about $10;

• Support for the concept came even though the cost to government could reach $10 million, and would mean hiring additional city staff to administer it;

• Forty-three per cent were strongly in favour;

• Support for the concept was strongest among Indigenous (69 per cent) and first-generation Canadians (68 per cent), those earning less than $30,000 annually (68 per cent), those who identify as NDP supporters (58 per cent), and among those who said they are regular Transit riders (55 per cent).

 

Currently, Winnipeg Transit sells monthly adult bus passes for $100.10, youth passes at $70.10, a seniors pass at $50.05, and post-secondary pass at $80.10. A single, adult cash fare is $2.95.

Transit authorities in several Canadian cities offer low-income bus passes, including Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Ottawa, Saskatoon and Toronto.

Chaudhary said while local officials may be uncertain as to how to determine eligibility, and who or what agency would do it, he said it shouldn’t be seen as an insurmountable obstacle.

"Many other cities have adopted a low-income bus pass, so there are models Winnipeg Transit and city hall can follow," he said.

Chaudhary said most assaults on Transit drivers stem from a fare dispute, adding he believes instituting a low-income pass would reduce such incidents.

A discounted pass for low-income earners is essential for Winnipeg, he said.

"Right now, it’s very difficult for (low-income individuals) to be able to get around," Chaudhary said. "Many times, they have to make a decision between buying groceries or buying a bus pass. They need it to get to work, go shopping, and to take care of their families."

 

The Probe Research survey also questioned Winnipeggers about their mode of travel. The report found 20 per cent said they "regularly" take transit, while 41 per cent said they did occasionally, and 37 per cent said they never used transit.

Among other modes of travel used most regularly, not surprisingly the most favoured was driving (86 per cent), walking (57 per cent), and biking (22 per cent).

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Aldo Santin

Aldo Santin
Reporter

Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.

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