Transit riders will be able to stay out a little later as city council has approved $1.6 million to operate five bus routes until 3 a.m. next year.

Coun. Andrew Knack said all big cities should have a public transportation option at night.

“I remember walking the beat with EPS officers downtown, it was 2:45 at night … walking down Jasper Avenue and there were people waiting at every bus stop for a bus that was not going to be showing up,” he said.

“That, to me, just showed the need to have that service right away.”

Starting in September 2015, the city will run routes 1, 4, 8 and 9 until three o’clock in the morning. They will also create route 505, which will operate as a replacement for the North East LRT line when it shuts down for the night. Councillors will evaluate the changes in a year and decide if the late-night buses are work continuing.

Coun. Amarjeet Sohi said he hopes the new service will help people who work nights, who can’t afford to drive or take a cab.

“These are people who have modest means, and these are people who rely on public transportation more than other people do,” Sohi said.

Council also hopes to give the public a safe option for getting home after a night on the town.

Coun. Bryan Anderson was the only one to vote against late night bus service — he said he doesn’t want to approve new programs that will drive up property taxes.

“I am just not looking forward to having to talk to citizens about a property tax increase in excess of five per cent,” he said.

The debate on the budget is expected to continue until at least on Wednesday.