Ottawa

$1.75 transit fare for low-income riders approved at transit commission

Low-income transit riders are one step closer being able to pay the discount rate of $1.75 for a single ride after the transit commission voted in favour of introducing the new single-ride EquiFare.

If approved by council, singe-ride fare to go into effect June 2018

The transit commission also passed a motion to credit the $6 cost of buying a Presto card because advocates argued that the price was a barrier for low-income riders. (Danny Globerman/CBC)

Low-income transit riders are a step closer to paying the discount rate of $1.75 for a single ride after the transit commission voted in favour of introducing the new EquiFare.

The commission also passed a motion to credit the $6 cost of buying a Presto card — which is required to take advantage of the lower fare — because advocates have argued that the price was a barrier for low-income riders.

Council must approve both measures as part of the budget discussions on Dec. 13. If approved, the new fare is expected to be in effect by June 2018.

The discounted single fare for low-income people comes a year after the city introduced the monthly EquiPass. Both fares are specifically meant for those living below the annual low-income cutoff who don't qualify for other discounted passes. That cutoff is $24,600 for a single person and $45,712 for a family of four.

EquiPass slow to attract subscribers 

The EquiPass program has been undersubscribed since being made available earlier this year. Many believe that at $57 a month — half off a regular monthly pass — it's still too expensive.

However, the reduced single fare is expected to help those who can't afford to shell out $57 at once, according to Trevor Haché with Healthy Transportation Coalition.

While he applauded the new fare, Haché was critical of OC Transpo's plan to increase the price by 2.5 per cent each year.

"I don't think people on low incomes have their incomes raised 2.5 per cent every year," he said.

All fares rising in 2018

Despite a dip in ridership — OC Transpo is forecasting $8.5 million in revenue less than expected by the end of this year — the transit commission approved an increase for all fares in 2018. They'll take effect on Jan. 1, except for the U-Pass increase, which comes into effect in the fall.

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