Riders needed for regional study on affordable bus pass options
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.
The goal of the study is to figure out which products are providing the greatest benefit to people living on low income.