All aboard: Ensuring equitable access to public transit

Ensuring all Calgarians have access to the personal mobility required to access employment, educational and social opportunities is essential to creating inclusive, supportive communities and a prosperous city.

In 2017, The City introduced a sliding scale fare structure to its Low Income Transit Pass program to help improve access and affordability. Through the Fair Entry program, low-income Calgarians can now purchase transit passes that better align with their ability to pay. Since its implementation, the program has more than doubled in size and supports 60,000 low-income Calgarians, with 425,000 passes sold annually.

In a survey of low-income transit pass customers in 2018, benefits reported included better access to jobs & education, improved health & well-being, integration with community & friends and increased financial resiliency.

Over 78 per cent of respondents said the program made it easier to maintain social supports through family and friends; 84 per cent said it was easier to attend medical and other appointments; and 74 per cent agreed the pass allowed family members to seek employment opportunities. Significantly, 25 per cent of respondents were able to access Transit for the first time because of the program, with new Calgarians accounting for half of this number.

“The positive impact that this program has had in our city is significant,” says Nikhil Lobo, manager of Transit Planning. “Access to transit is one of the most basic but powerful ways to support vulnerable individuals and low-income Calgarians have been clear that the program has greatly improved their day to day lives and ability to fully participate in our community.”

The program is only possible because of a three-year $4.5 million annual funding partnership with the Government of Alberta. This funding agreement ends at the end of 2019. In addition, The City’s subsidy costs have increased by more than $6 million due to the success of the program and its unprecedented growth. To secure the program into the future, The City of Calgary is requesting a multi-year funding commitment from the Government of Alberta that also accommodates the growth in the program.

“We need a long-term funding commitment from The Province to ensure sustainability,” says Nikhil. “Without this important investment, The City may not be able to adequately serve those Calgarians most in need, and the risk of price increases that affect the most vulnerable citizens is significant.”

Communication and dialogue with the provincial government on this issue remains a top priority and The City is committed to working with the Province to make life more affordable for Calgarians.

Before you cast your vote in this election, YYC Matters encourages you to ask if your party commits to the extension of the provincial grant funds necessary to continue the current approach to the Low Income Transit Pass.

YYC Matters highlights social and economic issues that matter to Calgarians in this election. For more information on the YYC Matters initiative, visit