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Burlington’s Budget Committee on-board with free transit for seniors and SPLIT users

Transit

Changes are coming for Burlington Transit riders with the City’s budget committee carrying a motion to bring free transit to seniors and those who qualify for the SPLIT program. Burlington City Council will vote to approve the motion at the March 25 meeting.

The motion was part of the city’s proposed 2019 operating budget discussions at the Committee of the Whole (COW) – Budget meeting on Thursday, Feb. 28,  and included:

  • Provide free transit for adults 65 years of age and older between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on weekdays starting in June 2019 as a pilot;
  • Provide free monthly passes on PRESTO for Burlington residents who qualify for the Subsidized Passes for Low Income Transit (SPLIT) program;
  • Burlington Transit will work with Halton Region on ways to improve the Subsidized Passes for Low Income Transit program;
  • Burlington Transit will work with school boards to develop a fare strategy for students;
  • Burlington Transit will create a working group comprising of one Member of Council, members of the public and Burlington Transit Staff.

Next step: Details of these new initiatives will be communicated to residents after the approval of the 2019 operating budget.

MY VIEW: 

The singular, big dot we’re trying to get to in our city is moving towards increasing ridership on our Burlington Transit buses. Fares can act as a barrier to that. I want to eliminate as many barriers as possible to get more folks comfortable with using our local transit system and free transit does that.

20 thoughts on “Burlington’s Budget Committee on-board with free transit for seniors and SPLIT users”

  1. We don’t need to look to far to see a state of the art transit system- Montreal has one of the best. All my years as a youth to adulthood I lived in a suburb and held jobs downtown Mtl. Transit was always the way to go. We never had these large parking lots at our Metro stations instead everyone took a bus to the Metro and got downtown within 20 minutes…….a fast (may buses on the roads) system ensured people left cars at home. With one ticket you could transfer to other buses or the Metro paying one fee. Our system in Burlington needs to engage people to leave their cars at home. Our roads are overcrowded and not just at rush hour. With development it will only get worse. I agree with giving those in low-income brackets a free ride. We must help them to find jobs and be able to commute to them. As far as seniors a reduced rate would be sufficient but at all hours in the day as many are isolated and could join a community dinner if they had transportation. If they fall into the low-income bracket then they would be free anyway. As a community we need to ensure all our residents have access to services. Thanks

  2. Jane Ishibashi

    Great idea to help seniors and low income earners this way! Let’s show some compassion and build on helping each other!

  3. Chuck Wightman

    As more Burlingtonians age, the city will need MORE and BETTER transit. Free riders are not going to pay for this. The property taxes from new development and new PAYING ridership will. If you do not have new development, you will not have new tax revenue. If you have a poor system, you will not entice new ridership. If you do not have new tax revenue, those who presently enjoy Burlington will either PAY MORE or GET LESS. To pretend otherwise is to feed people the same folly that has created the poor planning, traffic congestion and poor transit we already have. Be honest about what the future needs and holds…AND PAY FOR IT.

  4. A few thoughts: Great initiative and pilot project. I agree with poster above who says $1 fare is better. For those in east Burlington, the biggest frustration that I hear of is the fact that there is no straight path to downtown. The bus goes up Appleby and not along Lakeshore. Would make so much sense to have a bus that travels from the hospital to Burloak, essentially. What a great way to draw seniors downtown for lunch. But diverting to Appleby GO just makes that a ridiculous idea.

  5. I hope that my following comments are not misinterpreted as being insensitive towards seniors as I believe that this is one demographic that heavily relies on, and benefits, from public transit. With that said, providing free service to seniors, who may, understandably and respectfully, require more time to board and unboard a bus, will inevitably slow down service without a corresponding increase in revenue. With all due respect, this is the opposite direction that a successful public transit system ought to be heading. Alternatively, why not strive to increase ridership by improving the frequency of service rather than slowing down the service? In order to maintain even the current standard of service, while providing free rides to seniors, additional buses will need to be added but I don’t know how that can be feasible while diminishing the revenue stream.

    1. Not to sound incentive Mr. Page but does society always have to be in a hurry. Your senior day will come and you’ll be so thankful that a transit bus will wait for you to board or exit a bus. Have patience and understanding for the elderly.

  6. Excellent idea in trying to increase transit ridership with our aging population. I see it’s a pilot project so it will be interesting to see how well received. Congrats City Council on trying something different if it doesn’t work let’s not keep trying.

  7. Free buss rides even though taxpayers have to absorb the cost of busses, fuel and drivers. But charge for downtown parking even though it costs nothing since streets, curbs, etc., are already paid for. Go figure, and to heck with taxpayers on fixed income. Merry

  8. Totally agree with with Doug Christilaw. It is much more important to build a transit system worth riding to divert some traffic from the roads (remove the excuse for youth to say the “transit sucks” and cop a ride) than to give away rides to entice ridership that the system isn’t capable of dealing with or delivering to their destinations. Build a system worth paying for. Enhanced rush hour frequency which meets Go trains. Service that operates at a minimum of 6AM to Midnight on Sundays and holidays (economic growth happens when youth and others can get to and from work and leisure activities). Service that is never less frequent than 30 minutes. Buses that get cleaned regularly. Buses that CONNECT. NO FREE Transit. For too long people have believed that services can be had for free. That’s WHY we have the present sad and underfunded system.

  9. Norman Johnston

    I agree with Doug that those seniors who can afford the tariff should pay the going fare but having a means testing mechanism may prove difficult.
    to administer. But perhaps not as I assume that there is a system now on place to identify the low income riders to qualify for lower fares.

  10. Love the idea of Subsidized Passes for seniors and low income users.
    Even a reduced fair would help.
    Thank you!

    1. I hope that my following comments are not misinterpreted as being insensitive towards seniors as I believe that this is one demographic that heavily relies on, and benefits, from public transit. With that said, providing free service to seniors, who may, understandably and respectfully, require more time to board and unboard a bus, will inevitably slow down service without a corresponding increase in revenue. With all due respect, this is the opposite direction that a successful public transit system ought to be heading. Alternatively, why not strive to increase ridership by improving the frequency of service rather than slowing down the service? In order to maintain even the current standard of service, while providing free rides to seniors, additional buses will need to be added but I don’t how that can be feasible without any additional revenue streams.

  11. Doug Christilaw

    Encouraging increased ridership is a good thing. However, free transit is going too far.
    Minimum charge should be NO less then $1.00 for any person per ride no matter the age or situation.
    I am a senior and would not object to paying something.
    People will not object to paying for the service.
    The general taxpayer is at their limit of tolerance for the amount of taxes they pay.

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