© Times-Herald photo by Lisa Goudy
Mark Sture, City of Moose Jaw transit manager (right) and Warren Michelson, Moose Jaw North MLA, listen as Deputy Mayor Coun. Brian Swanson (left) speaks about the provincial government announcement of increased funding for the discounted bus pass program on May 16, 2014 in council chambers at city hall.
Provincial government increases funding for discounted bus pass program
Approximately 2,400 Moose Jaw residents will benefit from the discounted bus pass program.
On Friday, Moose Jaw North MLA Warren Michelson announced that the provincial government has increased its contribution to the discounted bus pass (DBP) program for a total of $1.6 million for Moose Jaw, Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Swift Current, Yorkton and North Battleford.
“Our government is able to provide funding increases like this because of growth, but, as our growth plan states, we don’t want growth simply for growth’s sake. We need growth with purpose,” said Michelson.
“That purpose is to build a better quality of life for all Saskatchewan people. Access to safe and affordable transportation can be a huge barrier to the focus of the province to those who are most vulnerable and we are pleased to make this announcement.”
The government will provide $54,000 in funding that will help approximately 2,400 citizens in Moose Jaw. The program ensures a rate of at least $25 below the full fare. With proof of social assistance, the rate for the discounted pass is $20 per month.
“There are a lot of people who benefit from this program,” said Deputy Mayor Coun. Brian Swanson. “I don’t think there’s anywhere in the world where public transit systems operate on a profitable basis and the balance between the level of subsidy and level of service is a constant struggle.”
He said the city has extended hours of transit service. That will do a lot to help people who rely on the transit system.
Individuals who qualify for the program are anyone who is part of the Saskatchewan Assistance Program, the Transitional Employment Allowance, the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability Program, the Saskatchewan Employment Supplement and the Provincial Training Allowance.
“For those who use the bus as a means of transportation, it's vital to help those who need it most as a means of transportation from the city," said Michelson. "This program provides program recipients the freedom and dignity to live independently.”
The program is expected to cost $1.6 million in 2014-15, which is an increase of $60,000 from the projected cost for 2013-14.
Under the program, the province will pay cities a $25-subsidy for each bus pass sold and then the city reduces the cost of bus passes for people with low incomes. Since 2007, the government’s contribution has increased from $12 to $25.
“This program wouldn’t be possible without the tremendous support and service delivered from the City of Moose Jaw as well,” said Michelson. “It’s an excellent example of how the province and the community are working together to support society’s most vulnerable people.”
Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.