Kitchener-Waterloo

Grand River Transit raises bus fares on July 1st

The Grand River Transit is increasing bus fares on July 1, which will go towards sustaining ongoing service improvements.
Grand River Transit is increasing bus fares starting July 1.

Starting Friday, July 1, it will cost transit riders more money to ride the bus; Grand River Transit is increasing fares almost entirely across the board, which includes the cost of cash fares, tickets, and bus passes.

Cash fares will rise from $3.00 to $3.25, and adult monthly passes, which were previously $79.00, will now cost $82.00.

John Cicuttin, manager of transit development, acknowledged the new cash fare could be inconvenient, as customers will have to pay for their trip with a minimum of three coins now, instead of just a loonie and a twoonie. 

"However, we are going to be implementing a new electronic fare management system," Cicuttin said, which will allow customers to load money onto a smart card, to be deducted each time it is used.

Cicuttin said GRT hopes to get as many riders as possible using smart cards to pay for their ride, so that fumbling for change will soon be a thing of the past. 

He said the GRT hopes to beginning testing the smart cards this fall. 

More than an inconvenience

The smart cards may be a solution to carrying extra coins, but for some people, the increased fares are more than an inconvenience said Trudy Beaulne, executive director of the Social Development Centre Waterloo Region.

A twenty-five cent increase may not seem like a lot, but it can be a burden for people on social assistance, people who make minimum wage at part time jobs, or have no income at all, said Beaulne.

"A few years ago we looked at what it costs to live and what you could do if you were living on the social assistance level and I remember quite clearly, we came down to having a very very small ration for bus tickets," she said.

"I think you could be allowed four bus tickets per month."

Reduced income tickets won't increase

The price of GRT's Transit for Reduced Income Program pass will not change, but Beaulne said not everyone qualifies for this program.

"I have heard from people with limited incomes, who do not qualify or are on a waiting list for the low income program, and they have had to stop using the bus," she said.

She said these people either have to ration their bus tickets, walk or use a bicycle year-round. 

"If you have any kind of health or physical challenge that just adds to it," Beaulne said.

Cicuttin said the GRT has been increasing bus fares annually since 2012, in an effort to sustain ongoing service improvements and to keep up with inflation of operating costs.

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