British Columbia

B.C. scraps annual bus pass fee for persons with disabilities

After months of public pressure, the provincial government has scrapped an annual bus pass fee for people with disabilities — but critics say the change doesn't go far enough.

B.C. Social Development Minister Michelle Stilwell calls the change fairer for those who don't use transit

People with disabilities in B.C. no longer have to pay a $45 annual administrative fee for a fee-reduced bus pass program. (gillmar/Shutterstock)

After months of public pressure, the provincial government has scrapped a $45 annual bus pass fee for people with disabilities — but critics say the change doesn't go far enough.

"In the effect of trying to make it fair and equitable across the board, it seemed like a disadvantage for those that wanted to receive a bus pass to have an administrative fee," said Minister of Social Development Michelle Stilwell. 

In its last budget, the province raised assistance payments for people with disabilities by $77 per month, but started charging $52 per month for a monthly bus pass that had previously only cost an annual $45 administrative fee. 

Prior to the revision, the disability assistance rate had not been increased for nine years.

The Liberals argued the changes made the benefits more equitable for the roughly 50,000 people on disability assistance who live in communities where there is no access to consistent public transit.

"I quite frankly think we're not being listened to at all," said Inclusion B.C. Executive Director Faith Bodnar.

"They chose to do something that has little impact and really doesn't get to core of the problems, which is incredibly low PWD rates."

Bodnar says the government needs to commit to long-term assistance funding for persons with disabilities.

A petition to raise the rates for people with disabilities and keep the bus pass fees as they were has garnered more than 15,000 signatures