Open letter to Kelowna mayor and council:
I hope this letter reaches you individually and I hope you will respond.
In less than 80 days a group of Kelowna’s most vulnerable, persons with disabilities, living on income assistance, will have their transit fares increase from $45/year to $624/ year ($52/month X 12) on the BC BUS PASS. Interestingly, if they chose to give the government back $52 of their $77, all of the $52 the B.C. government receives, goes back into the government coffers.
This $52 a month bus pass represents a 133 per cent increase for their transit—a fee they little can afford on an income of $983 a month or less.
So, what can mayor and council do about this? As I understand, mayor and council have the responsibility to approve the transit fares for the Kelowna Transit service—you can even create your own fares and passes. If this true, perhaps a conservation/discuss can begin about a made in Kelowna solution, especially regarding the dilemma facing persons with disabilities (PWD).
If you are able to create a pass which is more affordable, two issues can result:
1. Seniors and PWD will have a pass which they can afford and;
2. They will be contributing, for the first time, directly into their city’s transit budget—the dollars stay here.
Take a few minutes to google ‘Saskatoon Transit’ and review their senior bus pass (annual and bi-annual bus pass). Apparently, this pass is so successful, seniors line up for it. I think you may be pleasantly surprised by the shear numbers alone and how much these funds contribute to their transit budget.
While their pass is meant for seniors, our pass could include persons with disabilities on income assistance.
While Saskatoon’s annual bus pass is just over $220/year ($110 for a six month pass), it is a reduction to our current seniors monthly bus pass of $45/month ($540/year), but I truly believe at this price point we will see, like Saskatoon has, more seniors buying these passes and using transit. While this fare represents approximately $16 a month, it also is more reflective of how often seniors utilize transit service. For persons with disabilities, $16 a month is a whole lot less than the $52 the government is asking them for and their funds will support their transit services directly (within their ability to do so).
Ideally, I would like nothing more for them to have their $45/year bus passes restored, but if this does not happen, are mayor and council ready to step up to the plate to find a solution. The seniors will thank you and persons with disabilities will appreciate not only to be able to continuing getting around in transit, but having $61 instead of $25 left in their pocket which would help them out immensely.
Joyce Mainland, Kelowna