The idea of Mayor Bowman to provide affordable prices on using public transport for low-income families can cost the city budget from $6M to $15M.
The cost of introducing low-income passes was presented in a report on the implementation of this idea in the city. Last fall, transit rates were raised by 25 cents, for which the mayor personally and the entire city council were heavily criticized.
In response, the city mayor commissioned Winnipeg Transit to consider the possibility of creating a special low-income program of travel in public transport, taking as an example the provision of similar discounts in Ottawa. Subsequently, Mayor Bowman used the idea of creating this program as part of his election campaign for a second term.
Laurie Fisher, Winnipeg Transit finance manager, believes that this idea should be taken into account and considered during the negotiations on the budget for 2019. The report states that at least 13,000 adult Winnipeg residents will be eligible for benefits under this program due to low incomes.
Fisher indicates that introducing a 50% discount on a monthly pass for low-income residents would cost the budget $5.9 million. Providing the same discounts for low-income children will cost another $7.5 million per year. Another $1.4 million will go to the provision of discounts on one-time trips.
The published report does not indicate the sources from which the city should take money for a new program but only calls for discussing the cost sharing with the province. The introduction of discounts is proposed to be divided into 3 years in order to reduce the burden on the budget.
Representatives of the mayor said that he still fully supports the idea of creating this program and is not going to give up his intentions. The mayor’s office noted that the gradual introduction of a program of discounts for the inhabitants with low-income residents will allow the city to more accurately manage the costs of this program and introduce them into the budget for 2019.
At the moment, Winnipeg Transit still lacks funding after the province in 2017 ceased to cover half of its costs, which are not covered by income from the fare.