In February 2015, the Alliance Against Poverty requested a budget proposal item investigating the costs of making transit fare free for those on Ontario Works, half of the current fare for those on low-incomes ($21 instead of $42), freezing fare increases for the next five years, and making a change to Grand River Transit Route 6, so that those living in poverty can safely access the emergency food hamper.
Congratulations to Waterloo Region councillors for taking the first step towards providing free transit for those living in poverty.
As they make their decision, I hope that councillors take into consideration the high costs of not providing free transit access to those living in poverty, including social isolation, difficulty in finding work and accessing needed services, often leading to higher health care costs.
Moreover, transit access is a human right, and there is an urgent need to address the mobility needs of people living in poverty who are the primary users of public transport.
Fairness and sustainability are to be achieved by ensuring access for everyone. I look forward to seeing Waterloo Region emerge as a leader in transit fare equity.