Edmonton councillors back away from transit fare plan that would see price jump for seniors

WATCH ABOVE: Changes are on the way for the Edmonton Transit Service that could see revenues take a hit. As Vinesh Pratap reports, that has the city thinking about asking seniors to pay more to make up some of the shortfall.

Councillors on the city’s Urban Planning Committee have rejected the first draft of a new transit fare plan that would have seen many seniors paying substantially more. The original proposal was a monthly rate climbing from $15.50 to $67. Instead, transit staff will devise a sliding scale that’s based on income.

“We do need to adjust our approach to seniors,” Mayor Don Iveson told reporters after the meeting on Tuesday. “We have a very deep discount for low income. We might as well make it free —  it’s not a huge cost — just like we’ve done for expanding it for more children.”

“I would definitely think we need to have that sliding scale, and the threshold has to be certainly higher,” said Rosalie Gelderman, from the Edmonton Seniors Coordinating Council.


READ MORE:
Report suggests Edmonton Transit discounts should be based on income, not age

There were plenty of questions on the committee around making it so those seniors who can pay, do.

The goal is still to bring in a smart card, electronic fare system for late 2020 when the Valley Line LRT begins running between Mill Woods and downtown.

READ MORE: Edmonton Transit Service’s cash-only fare system lags behind other cities

That smart card system will base fares on distance traveled, and will have the ability to offer discounts during non-peak morning and drive home rush hours, which will encourage seniors to ride when the system is only half full, and won’t be a major cost to operations.

However, transit branch manager Eddie Robar said it can get complicated, especially with seniors staying in the work force.

“People are working longer now than they used to so we when we look at people and seniors travelling in peak hours, there’s probably more of that happening nowadays than there was in previous years as people retired at an earlier age.”

The second attempt at a new fare system will be back before city councillors in November.

It is being designed so fares bring in 40-45 per cent of the revenue needed to run Edmonton Transit. The cost recovery currently sits at 42 per cent.

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