Calgary Transit should end seniors pass to save money, suggests independent report

A report recommending Calgary Transit phase out the seniors transit pass to save money isn't going over well with seniors.

Annual pass for seniors costs less than monthly adult pass

An independent report suggests getting rid of the seniors transit pass to save money, and charge seniors youth rates instead. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

Advocates are not impressed with a recommendation that Calgary Transit phase out the seniors pass to save money.

The independent report, which goes to a city committee on Tuesday, found $9.2 million in savings for Calgary Transit. 

Luanne Whitmarsh, the CEO of the Kerby Centre, says you can't put a dollar figure on quality of life.

"It's fair to look at different things, but [you] have to balance that with what else will it cost you. Where else will you be seeing the deficits of having this situation, with people staying home and not getting out, and hoarding, and all the other things that come along with that," she said.

Charge seniors youth fares, says report

The consultant's report recommends bringing seniors' pricing more in line with youth fares, and offering senior cash fares, tickets and monthly passes to replace the annual pass.

The seniors pass currently costs $95 a year. Comparatively, a pass for adults is $99 each month and a monthly pass for youth is $65. Low-income seniors can pay $15 a year for an annual pass.

"Having people being able to get out of their home in an effective and efficient way reduces isolation, increases quality of life and makes sure that everyone is continuing to participate in their own life," said Whitmarsh, who added that the cost savings from getting rid of the annual past would be "downloaded" elsewhere — including medical costs.

The recommendations also include contracting out some work, such as cleaning and maintenance.

'In many cases seniors are doing well'

Coun. Shane Keating, the chair of the transportation and transit committee, said he thinks it makes more sense to tie the cost of a pass to income rather than age. 

"In many cases seniors are doing well," he said, adding he doesn't think seniors should be charged the full fare.

He said there is "always pushback" when you increase costs, but the question that needs to asked is: "Is it justifiable?"

Another contentious suggestion in the report is to outsource cleaning and refuelling of buses, something Keating said should be considered.