Beginning this September, some Red Deer transit users will see a three per cent increase in fares.
City council approved the hike on day three of 2018 Operating Budget debate Thursday. It comes after city council froze transit fees a year ago.
City Manager Craig Curtis explained the decision was made necessary because of the Province's unwillingness to provide more transit subsidy dollars to smaller urban centres.
"Calgary and Edmonton have been given $5 million from the government to subsidize transit rates for lower income. They do apply the program in a different way, but when the mid-sized cities asked for some of the treatment, they were denied any funding at all because it was said to be a pilot project," he said. "What I said to council today is that's exactly the reverse of what logic would dictate becase in larger cities, there's higher transit ridership, which of course results in less subsidy being required."
Curtis says there's no indication the pilot project which Edmonton and Calgary are benefiting from will change as it enters the second of its three-year term.
Councillor Ken Johnston also laments the province's decision and how it will impact citizens who depend on transit.
"We heard yesterday about the cost of capital to repair buses, and now we're catching up with this fare increase," he says. "The reason I called it an equity issue is when people need access to employment, to recreation, but can't ordinarily afford conventional transportation -- single parents, immigrants, people with disabilities of various natures -- those people depend on a transit system thats going to be there for them on a certain predictable timetable."
The City of Red Deer currently subsidizes conventional bus fares at 61 per cent. The Canadian average is 45 per cent. It subsidizes action buses at 93 per cent, while the Canadian average is 92 per cent.
For Red Deer College students, the fare increase will be their first in three years. Semester passes will go from $140 to $150.
Monthly passes for seniors will go from $60 to $62. Monthly passes for students will go from $55 to $56. Cash fares and adult passes are not affected.
Ridership increased one per cent in 2017 and is projected to increase another two per cent in 2018.
The fare increase will bring in an additional $120,000 in revenue for The City.
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