You’ve probably noticed that the City of Edmonton is in the process of developing a new transit strategy. There are giant notices on billboards, bus stops and buses asking for your input. They want your help making decisions about bus routes and bus frequency.
These kinds of decisions are important for the people we work with too; Edmontonians who are living with poverty. They are often completely reliant on transit to get to school or work; to do the groceries; or to visit friends and relatives in other parts of the city. It’s important that bus routes take them where they need to go, so they don’t have to push strollers laden with kids and groceries for blocks when it’s freezing cold.
But it’s even more important that transit is affordable. A return trip for two adult and two children costs more than $25. That is simply too much for Edmontonians living with limited income and they’re often forced to make difficult decisions: one mom tells us that she’s decided diapers are more important that a transit pass, but that means she can’t go out anywhere with her baby. She’s lucky to have an affordable grocery store nearby, but doctors’ appointments are difficult. Seeing her own mom on the other side of the city is a rare treat.
The Mayor’s Task Force on Poverty agreed that affordable, reliable and accessible transit is key to supporting Edmontonians move out of poverty: that is Recommendation 11. The plan is to create a low income transit pass. However it’s been delayed because of funding issues.
If the provincial government agrees to contribute dollars to a low income transit pass, and if the revised plan is approved by Council, it will start on September 1st, 2017. We are hopeful that both the civic and provincial governments will recognize how urgent an issue this is for Edmontonians – and take action.