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Saint John Transit will no longer offer free fares to visually impaired passengers due to discrimination concerns. (CBC)

Visually impaired people will have to start paying for transit in Saint John after decades of riding the bus for free.

The transit commission changed its policy last week because of concerns about discrimination.              

Gerry Harris, who is legally blind, will now have to pay the full fare.

"When I go to use the bus, I have to make sure I have the additional money with me. And that's going to be a lot of the problem with a lot of the clients of the CNIB. You know a lot of people have low incomes, and they're on budgets," said Harris.              

The change is unfair because blind people can't drive so they are forced to take the bus, he says.

"This is kind of a step going backwards for inclusion for the city."              

Coun. Donna Reardon, chair of the Transit Commission, says it's just the opposite.

And she says it's not about the money.

"What we really want to do is provide a fair bus service for everyone," Reardon said.

"Is it reasonable for us to be selecting a group out and offering them free fares?"

Reardon says the transit commission is looking at offering lower fares during off-hours.