City Explores Fair Entry Program for Transit

” It’s a lot for me. I don’t win a lot like that,” he added.

That’s why the City of Medicine Hat recently launched a pilot program to explore a fair entry system, which would offer reduced fares to low-income people.

“The pilot program launched on April 1, we are working with five community partners who are engaging with a number of their participants,” said Leah Prestayko, Director of Community Development.

The five community partners are: Medicine Hat Community Housing, The Mustard Seed, Miywasin Friendship Centre, Be Youth and Saamis Immigration.

A total of 50 free bus passes were distributed to community groups for the duration of the three-month pilot project. As part of the program, participants will be asked if better access to public transit has improved their quality of life. If participants have never used public transport before, they will be asked what their current mode of transport is like and if having an affordable pass has helped them get around the city more . The city’s decision to explore a fair entry system has been welcomed by groups like McMan Youth, Family and Community Services, which help vulnerable people every day.

“Public transit has a direct impact on so many people. Learning the bus system helps build independence, increase individuals’ confidence, and help them navigate and use community resources. For us, it could be populations that need to seek and obtain employment, volunteer opportunities. So sometimes the livelihoods and success of participants in our services depend on public transit,” said
executive director Tracie Mutschler.

A more affordable public transit option, Mutschler said, would also help people with limited incomes meet the rising cost of daily expenses such as food.

“Seventy dollars can go a long way. If a person did not have to spend this cost on transportation, they can redirect it to other areas of their life that will also improve their well-being,” she added.

Currently , Calgary and Edmonton have fair entry systems in place , which are funded by the provincial government . But the city said fair-entry transit funding doesn’t exist for small towns like Medicine Hat, which it would like to see changed.

“We believe our residents are just as deserving as big city residents and that public transit is just as important to them as it is to residents of Calgary and Edmonton,” Prestayko said.

The results of the pilot program will be presented to the utility committee in late summer and early fall. It is then that committee members will assess the feasibility of the program and whether a fair entry system can be introduced.

Ryan H. Bowman