Calgary city council unanimously approved a new initiative that will allow those living well below the poverty line to get a bus pass for just over $5 per month.

"This makes a huge difference in people's lives," said Mayor Naheed Nenshi. "It gets them to medical appointments, to schools, to job interviews."

The sliding scale will mean those living in extreme poverty, making approximately $12,000 or less per year, will be able to get a Calgary Transit pass for $5.15. That's a steep discount from the $44 per month for a current subsidized pass. 

The price rises with income until a user exceeds the poverty line.

Avoiding tickets

"It also means that all of those folks who find themselves in trouble because they've just got to use transit and they can't afford the fare, they get a ticket, the ticket becomes an insurmountable thing keeping them in poverty," said Nenshi. "This is a very, very big deal."

The mayor said the cheap price helps cover the administrative costs of the program and also adds value to the pass. He also said there are plans to expand the program. 

"The next step is what do we do with working poor people who are making just above the poverty line, because right now there's just a sudden drop off," he said.