Chestermere City Council directed administration to provide an as-needed subsidy for eligible transit passengers from Chestermere effective Nov. 1.
City administration presented three options of subsidization of transit services during the transit pilot period program.
“The preferred option was the as-needed subsidy to those individuals requesting financial services for transit service,” said Finance Consultant, Tracey Polowich.
While working through alternatives, city administration had goals such as aligning the subsidized fares with Calgary to keep the level of confusion as low as possible for passengers, removing barriers to maximize ridership, and implement a subsidy that evaluates on an individual needs’ basis.
“The city is working on an accessibility policy which will guide the subsidization of certain city services and will ensure there is consistency in the application of subsidy fees for various demographics,” Polowich said.
Adding, “The intent with the subsidization of transit fares during the pilot period will be to keep in line with this policy, and to make subsidization decisions based on an individual needs’ basis rather than across the board reduced fees.”
The City of Calgary currently has subsidies in place for older adults, low-income passengers, and students with the UPass included in tuition fees.
“The UPass allows students to ride transit within the city boundaries this would preclude Chestermere students from riding from Chestermere to Calgary, but they could ride from anywhere in Calgary out to Chestermere.”
The subsidized fares will be provided through discounted adult and youth passes and tickets which will be purchased by the city of Chestermere and resold to eligible residents at the discounted price.
The fares will be priced similarly to the City of Calgary low-income passes, and subsidy eligibility will be determined by the Community Supports Services team and will be based on an income sliding scale system similar to that is used by the City of Calgary.
Funding is proposed to come from developer contributions that have been made towards the pilot transit program, and Gifts of Kindness funds.
“We have kept the level of subsidy that is proposed to come from the Gifts of Kindness at the same level that has been used out of that fund for transportation services,” Polowich said.
“We propose to put an annual limit of the support provided to each individual for subsidized transit fares and that is to help maximize the number of people that can be assisted and to mitigate the cost for the city,” she said.
Adding, “The advantage of the option is that it ensures the individuals that need assistance are getting it, and it will reduce the cost of the subsidy as it will be focused on those who actually need the assistance.”
Polowich recommended the city put regulations in place that ensure the transit passes that are being subsidized are only being used by the passengers they are meant for.
The estimated total cost of the subsidy over the 28 months of the transit pilot period is $65,500 which is based on helping an estimated 58 Chestermere residents.
The estimates are based on Chestermere residents requiring financial assistance for transit services as determined through the review of residents accessing services through the resource centre over the past 20 months and gradually phasing the need in over the transit pilot period.
“The proposed transit project contributes to the Quality of Life pillar of Pathways to an Amazing Chestermere because a regional public transportation connection would improve transportation options by providing an alternate means of commuting to Calgary for Chestermere residents,” Polowich said.
“The project aligns well with all goals related to the vision for Partnerships. This inter-municipal project has worked to and will continue to improve our relationship with Calgary as the inter-municipal project is centered around effective communication and collaboration,” she said.