The City of London may change the longstanding way residents could qualify for discounted bus passes.
A new report headed to the Community and Protective Services Committee next week suggests the discounts should be based on financial need, and those adults who receive it would be living below the “low income cut-off measure.”
A 25 per cent discount for seniors was instituted back in the 1950’s. The blind have been able to ride the bus for free since the 1980’s.
There are currently around 569 senior bus passes issued in London monthly, along with over 44,000 senior bus tickets purchases monthly. Of the 64,100 seniors living in London, 605 are living under the low income cut-off. On average, there are 400 visually impaired Londoners accessing public transit per month.
According to the latest statistics, there would be almost 29,000 adults, 18 years and older, living under the low income cut-off who would become eligible for the new program.
City staff looked at 12 municipalities across Ontario for recommendation. Eight offered their residents a subsidized or discount program based on riders’ ability to pay, while four did not. In 2013 and 2014, stakeholders from the Council for London Seniors, Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Ontario Works/Ontario Disability Support Program Advocates, New Vision, Community Living London, and Accessibility Advisory Committee met with City of London staff. The outcome of those meetings was a recommendation that a program be developed, and that the only consideration to qualify for transportation subsidy should be an individual’s ability to pay.
The current cost for a monthly bus pass in London is $81.00. The new rules would allow for a discount of 50 per cent, meaning those who qualify will only have to pay $40.50 a month.
If councillors sign off on the idea, staff would like to see the program move forward with a 2-year pilot project starting January 1st, 2018.