Changes are afoot for some transit users who rely on the provincial government’s B.C. Bus Pass program to get around.
Beginning on September 1, there will be an additional $52 monthly fee for people with Person with Disabilities (PWD) designation to hold the B.C. Bus Pass. This is in addition to the existing $45 annual administration fee.
Currently, the government provides approximately half of 100,000 people with PWD designation with a subsidized bus pass that costs taxpayers $52 per month or a special transportation subsidy of $66 per month.
“There is an inequity in the current system, and this change will bring fairness to the ministry’s transportation supports,” reads a press release. “The rest, particularly those living in smaller communities, receive no transportation support at all.”
The government says the increase in the bus pass fee is offset by a $77 per month rate increase for 100,000 people who are eligible for disability assistance.
“We know that people with disabilities face extra challenges in their daily lives,” said Michelle Stilwell, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation, in a statement.
“That’s why I’m pleased to see that in Budget 2016 we are able to provide an increase in our rates for people with disabilities while creating equity in our system of transportation supports. This increase also allows people to make their own choice on how to meet their transportation needs.”
With the new monthly fee added on, the government recommends that some people on disability assistance may be better off purchasing a bus pass directly from B.C. Transit.
However, the system will not change for eligible low income seniors; a B.C. Bus Pass will still be available to low income seniors for only the $45 annual administration fee.
About 90,000 people hold the B.C. Bus Pass, which costs the government $50 million annually to subsidize.