Rid­ers needed for re­gional study on af­ford­able bus pass op­tions

Waterloo Region Record - - LOCAL - Jo­hanna Wei­d­ner, Record staff jwei­d­ner@there­cord.com, Twit­ter: @Wei­d­nerRecord

WATER­LOO RE­GION — Water­loo Re­gion is look­ing for low-in­come res­i­dents to join a pi­lot study on af­ford­able tran­sit op­tions.

The re­gion is part­ner­ing with the Univer­sity of Water­loo and the On­tario Tril­lium Foun­da­tion’s lo­cal poverty re­duc­tion fund to study how ac­cess to af­ford­able tran­sit im­proves peo­ple’s lives.

Four dif­fer­ent dis­counted passes were de­signed es­pe­cially for the one-year study, which is open to peo­ple liv­ing in the re­gion with a house­hold/fam­ily in­come be­low the On­tario Low In­come Mea­sure.

The goal of the study, tran­sit ser­vices di­rec­tor Eric Gille­spie ex­plained, is to fig­ure out “what prod­ucts are pro­vid­ing the great­est ben­e­fit to those liv­ing on low in­come.”

Ac­cess to af­ford­able tran­sit is a key way to help peo­ple out of poverty, al­low­ing them to travel to work, ed­u­ca­tion and so­cial ser­vices.

Cur­rently, the re­gion has two re­duced-cost op­tions for low-in­come res­i­dents, but the de­mand ex­ceeds the ca­pac­ity. “There’s a big wait­ing list,” Gille­spie said. One re­gional pro­gram, which of­fers a tran­sit pass that’s about 40 per cent off the reg­u­lar fare, cur­rently has a wait­ing list of 2,000.

The re­gion hopes to re­cruit 2,400 peo­ple for the study. Gille­spie said the re­gion will reach out to ev­ery­one on the wait list for sub­si­dized tran­sit.

Grand River Tran­sit cre­ated sev­eral passes for the study: an off-peak pass of $23/month, good for trav­el­ling out­side of peak hours; a 20-ride pass for $25/month, good for 20 rides at any time on reg­u­lar GRT routes; a combo pass for $48/month that com­bines the off-peak pass with 20 rides/month; an un­lim­ited pass for $65/month.

The re­gion will be able to con­tinue of­fer­ing passes de­ter­mined to be a suc­cess af­ter the study ends, Gille­spie said.

Reg­is­tra­tion closes Sept. 30, and the study will start in Oc­to­ber.

Par­tic­i­pants will be asked to fill out four sur­veys dur­ing the year. Af­ter each sur­vey, some will be ran­domly se­lected for the op­por­tu­nity to buy the dis­counted tran­sit pass of their choice.

Ev­ery­one who com­pletes all four sur­veys will be able to buy their dis­counted pass for five months af­ter the study ends.

Find out more at www.grt.ca/tran­sit­study or drop by the Work­ing Cen­tre, 58 Queen St. S. in Kitch­ener, or Luther­wood, 35 Dick­son St. in Cam­bridge.

PETER LEE, RECORD STAFF

The goal of the study is to fig­ure out which prod­ucts are pro­vid­ing the great­est ben­e­fit to peo­ple liv­ing on low in­come.

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