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Transit fares set to rise


Bus riders will have to dig deeper as city transit fares are slated to rise this year.

Starting on Sept. 1, the price of a bus ride using cash will increase by five cents, monthly Go Passes will rise by a dollar and a package of 12 tickets will increase by 50 cents.

An adult will pay $65 for a monthly pass, $2.40 in cash for a single ride and $24.50 for a 12-pack of tickets. Seniors and students will pay $2.10 for a single ride, $57 for a monthly pass and $21.50 for a 12-pack of tickets.

Go Passes for seniors who qualify for a guaranteed income subsidy will increase to $32.50, up 50 cents. Transit day passes are not affected.

City transit manager Kevin Joll said the price hike is in response to inflation and increased costs.

“Each and every year it costs more to provide the service,” said Joll.

“The other reason we do it is because waiting and doing a big increase really doesn’t go well. Since 1998, we’ve been doing this.

“Although it’s never fun and customers don’t like the costs to go up, it really has been a good approach in having a sustainable plan in place to keep in line with increased expenses.”

The fare increase was approved as part of last week’s city operating budget deliberations.

Coun. Chris Stephan did not support the change.

“I think we need to go in another direction to make transit more accessible to users,” said Stephan. “Any increase is more than what a lot of people can afford. Ultimately, I would like us to offer free transit.”

Coun. Cindy Jefferies agreed there is some merit to discussing free transit but the biggest barrier she hears from the community is the frequency of service.

If it took you from one end of the city to the other, but the bus didn’t come often enough, you wouldn’t use it anyway, said Jefferies.

“I would rather see us try to increase that level of service by increasing level of frequency so it is more convenient for those who depend on transit to get across town ... rather than support free transit at this point.”

Last year, council voted to reduce the late-night transit service from every 30 minutes to every 60 minutes, for a cost savings of $160,000.

There was a push back from community members, including regular bus rider Cherise Piercy, who presented a petition with 471 signatures to council at the mid-year budget review.

During budget deliberations, Coun. Paul Harris pushed unsuccessfully to restore the services. Restoring the service would have added an estimated $159,000 to the city’s 2013 and ongoing budgets.

“We have essentially given the savings to the whole community but it has been on the backs of people who need to get home that are already working in low-paying jobs,” said Harris. “I just don’t think it was a good decision to remove it in the first place.”

Coun. Dianne Wyntjes said she would like to wait for a larger transit discussion during the August mid-year budget review before making any changes.

This year, the city is expected to lay the groundwork for a transit review in 2014.

For a full list of fares, go to www.reddeer.ca and search transit fares.

crhyno@reddeeradvocate.com

 
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