Halifax councillors mull 10 per cent hike in transit fares
Published Friday, February 1, 2019 11:13PM AST
Last Updated Friday, February 1, 2019 11:15PM AST
Taking public transit in the Halifax Regional Municipality might cost more in the coming months.
This week, city councillors have voted in favour of a 10 per cent hike and that has people talking.
“I think it's pathetic,” said P.J. McKay. “A lot of people have a hard time getting around as it is, and putting the price up makes it harder for everybody.”
Konrad Rademacher isn’t concerned with having to pay an extra quarter if it helps the city balance its budget.
“I've been here three years and it's always been $2.50,” he said. “So, I don't see a problem with raising it 25 cents. If it helps out the community, helps out the city, I'm all for it.”
On Wednesday, Halifax council approved a proposed Halifax Transit budget that includes a 10 per cent increase in bus and ferry prices.
The increase could see an adult fare raised from $2.50 to $2.75 and from $78 to $85 for a monthly pass.
A senior or child fare would be raised from $1.75 to $2.00, or $58 to $62 for a monthly pass.
Officials say Halifax Transit fares are among the lowest in the country, and they haven't been raised in more than five years.
“Halifax Transit has very low fares relative to comparable cities in Canada,” said transit advocate Scott Edgar of It's More Than Buses. “That kind of 10 per cent increase is not really going to put us on the wrong side of average.”
Rademacher, who is from Calgary, says a bus fare there was $2.50 20 years ago.
“Last time I checked, it's like almost $5,” he said.
However, Edgar warns that any increase could have a negative effect on the people who rely on transit the most.
“Any increase in fares has got to be paired with a program like the one that Halifax Transit is piloting now that ensures that people with low income still have access to low-income passes,” he said.
Halifax Regional Coun. Matt Whitman said increased fare is meant to offset rising costs.
“For 10 years, the cost of transit has come up from $70 million to almost $120 million,” Whitman said. “So a 65 per cent increase of 50 million dollars.”
Not all councillors are for a fare increase and the debate continued Friday at council's weekly budget meeting.
“I'd rather have more people paying $2.50 than fewer people paying $2.75,” said Bedford Coun. Tim Outhit. “If ridership drops, or stays the same, have we really accomplished anything?”
The budget is still far from decided. A revised plan is expected to be presented to council in two weeks, with final approval scheduled for April 2.
If passed, rates would increase Oct. 1.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Allan April.