Nov 24, 2014

Crossing fingers to freeze Low-Income Monthly Transit Pass for 2015

Members of the Disability Action Hall attended Calgary budget talks on Monday, November 24th, 2014 to ask Council to freeze the low-income transit pass until we have a better idea what people can afford to pay. Public consultations and a report is due back to Council by September, 2015. 

In the meantime, Council deciding how to set these fares without enough data presents a huge barrier for people with limited income. Currently the subsidy program does not track how much a person earns, only if their income is below the low-income cut off which in 2012 was less than $23, 252 a year.

In July, Council decided to freeze "the seniors annual $ 15 low-income pass and $95 annual seniors transit pass" for 2015 when seniors heard it may increase. Age seems to be a determining factor as to how deep a discount should be, yet a seniors income is not tracked by the City. We need to improve the data in order to help Council set fares and subsidies at an affordable rate for the rider, transit and the taxpayer.

Meanwhile, last month nearly 10,000 people who are eligible for a $ 44 monthly low-income transit pass did not buy one. Hall members don't understand why people went to the trouble to apply for the subsidy and are not buying it. However our talks with community tell us $ 44 a month or $ 528 a year (97% higher than what seniors living on low-income pay) says Tammy Poirier "The pass is just too expensive. I don't know if I will be able to leave the house if the pass keeps going up and up."

We hope Council will freeze the discounted fares. The budget debates are expected to run until Friday. 

Stay tuned! 

Media Coverage

"Concerns over rising costs for Calgarians in budget plans" Global News
 "Calgary transit advocates call for more hours, low-income riders urge monthly fares Metro News

"Some fear they could be left behind as council debates new budget"

 66 CFR Radio


Below are photos and the letter we shared at City Council. 



Tammy speaks to media about freezing the $44 a monthly discounted pass until the City figures out the sliding scale (people paying what they can afford). Her  husband who is a senior pays only $ 95 a year, and some seniors pay as little as $ 15 a year, Council froze the prices for seniors until 2016. Tammy pays $ 528 a year.  

Brodie and Brad spoke about freezing the monthly discounted $ 44 pass. Brodie says  98% of his use of transit are essential trips, only 2% of his trips are for personal use. 

Our Letter to Calgary City Council: 


Members of the Disability Action Hall commend City Council earlier this year when the sliding scale concept was presented. We are here to speak in support of providing additional dollars to Calgary Transit to freeze the low-income transit pass for the following reasons:

To begin by quoting Councillor Stevenson, “I can still not understand why someone living on $1500 a month should be treated different if they are 55 or 65.”For your knowledge and reference, in October 2014 for the Citizens who have been approved by transit and want to ride more than four times a week, nearly 10,000 people did not buy a pass in October. 

As a reminder during this discussion in Council in July 2014, Councillors decided to freeze the seniors pass. The budget report before you have no change in prices to the seniors passes. To quote Councillor Farrell “People across the life spectrum struggle equally to make ends meet” We ask to freeze the low-income transit pass just as you have for the seniors who pay $ 1.25 a month.

As you may also know, the budget before you does not reflect an alignment of all discounted transit fares nor does the budget that aligns with the fairness principles of the Fair Calgary Policy. Councillor Diane Colley-Urquhart  said “The City should practise “reverse discrimination” Many people, especially members of the Disability Action Hall are permanently disabled and typically can do very little to improve their financial situation.

We also ask to freeze the low-income transit pass until the sliding scale review, report and recommendations come before Council September 2015. 

We also understand through our recent conversations with Calgary Transit, the data to help set this sliding scale may not be available until after the 2014 Notice of Assessment is completed and when people start to renew the passes; currently the challenge is while eligibility of income is checked, the income is not recorded on the single entry form at this time. We ask council not to raise the transit pass price without a full understanding of implications of even modest raise at this time.

We ask to please hit the pause button for low-income transit fares.  Given we do not have much data other than nearly 40% of the people who apply for the LITP in October did not buy one. It is in the best interest to freeze the pass until we know more data and to prevent unforeseen hardship, social isolation as typically the highest amount of sales for passes occur during cold climate months.

The community has told us that even at $ 44 a month. They cannot afford to buy it. Raising the low-income transit pass to another unaffordable rate counters the City’s commitment to policies of accessible and inclusive communities. By freezing the pass we are excited that another 10,000 people will contribute revenue to Calgary Transit and the community.

Thank you for your time and consideration to freeze the low-income transit pass until the sliding scale report is completed.

Colleen Huston
On behalf of the Disability Action Hall
Markusoff, July 28th, “Council Grapples with Seniors Pass” Calgary Herald


1 comment:

  1. I can tell you why it's hard for me to buy my families subsidized passes that I applied for. Timing. They are ONLY sold at the downtown centre (10-5pm) City Hall, and Village Square. At village square that only sell them until 7pm. I cannot get there via transit by 7 pm when I work until 6 accross the city. I've gotten there 5 min after 7 and been denied. On Saturdays, they sell them until 11:30am. So I have to get accross the city on a Saturday time schedule before then. Either that or borrow a car and fill it with gas to try and get there... Which I can't afford. The downtown centre is open from 10-5. My shift is 10-6. If I miss work to go get my pass, I'll get fired... Not to mention the 3-4 hr wait in the line up of everyone else trying to get their pass. Once I didn't get to work until 2pm, and I was waiting at 9 am in that line. City Hall is open earlier... But I have to get my kids to school, and can't be there that early. I did try the online thing a few times, but the system doesn't recognize my subsidy registration number. I called to get it fixed and was told that they don't know what's wrong, and to just come in instead.

    It's just not easily accessible to those of us with kids who work normal shifts. We can't afford to miss work to get a pass. It's MUCH easier to pull the money out of the groceries, miss a bill and go get a full priced pass at 8 pm at the local 7-11 when I get home. That's what I had to do this very day. I hauled my 3 kids on transit for 2 hours today, got to Village square 10 min after the cutoff of 11:30am. We went all the way back home and ended up not buying groceries so I could afford our families buss passes. Guess I'll have to call the Food Bank.

    Evening sales. That's what's needed for SO many of us. If you could even go to any city rec centre to buy them, it would be SO much more accessible. Imagine being able to get off the bus at your local rec centre rather then trying to bus all the way to the NE to go get it. Not all subsidized folk live in the NE.

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