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This article was published 21/10/2019 (979 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Social Planning Council of Winnipeg is helping residents learn about the proposed low-income bus pass.
The SPCW held an information session on Oct. 22 at the SPCW’s office at 432 Ellice Ave. The session was intended to help low-income residents get ready for Oct. 24, when city council will vote for or against the low income pass.
The proposed fare reduction would apply to monthly bus passes, starting at a 30 per cent discount in April and increasing to 50 per cent in 2022.
Josh Brandon, community animator for the SPCW, organized the session. He said it’s a good first step, but more needs to be done.
"With bus fare increasing over the last few years, transit has become unaffordable for many residents. For some people, even if it gets down to (50 per cent reduced fare), it won’t be affordable," Brandon said. "We want to make sure that low-income residents have their voices heard. Part of our challenge is giving them the tools they need to speak for themselves."
Brandon mentions how there is no low-income option for tickets, which most low-income transit riders use to get around. A monthly transit pass is also a big upfront cost. For residents living paycheque to paycheque, making that payment at the beginning of the month could put them further into poverty, according to Brandon.
At the session, residents will get more information about what the discounted bus pass would do, as well as more information about how to register to speak at city council. The event will also serve to connect people, helping to mobilize low-income residents to take control and advocate for themselves.
Council’s executive policy committee recommended to move forward on the low-income bus pass on Oct. 15. According to the proposed plan, Winnipeg residents qualify if they live below the Statistics Canada before-tax low income cutoff (which was $24,949 for a single person in 2018), if they are currently approved for the EIA program, or if they’re a new resident or refugee who has been in Canada for less than one year and have not filed a tax return.
The plan will go before council at 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 24.
Brandon said regardless of what happens, he hopes this is the beginning of a larger conversation on transit.
"There’s an environmental and sustainability aspect to transit. It’s the most environmentally friendly way to get people around the city," Brandon said. "This is not going to be the end of the discussion, but rather it’s the beginning of a process to make sure (transit users) are heard. We need affordable transit for all residents in Winnipeg."
For more information, visit spcw.mb.ca
The Metro community journalist
Justin Luschinski was the community journalist for The Metro until May 2021.