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Province reverses decision to cut funding for low-income bus passes in Calgary and Edmonton

Alberta’s UCP government will not be cutting its share of funding for low-income transit passes in the province’s two largest cities, CBC News has confirmed.

The mayors of Calgary and Edmonton both raised the alarm on Tuesday about the funding cut, which could have jeopardized the future of the passes.

In a statement sent to CBC News on Wednesday morning, Seniors, Community and Social Services Minister Jason Nixon’s office says that Alberta’s government “understands the need to support low-income Albertans.”

“Following conversations with the two largest cities, it is clear that the cities are not able to pay for their full programs at this time. As a result, Alberta’s government will continue to extend this funding to the cities and work with them to ensure their low-income transit program continues to be funded in the future.”

Calgary received $6.2 million from the province last year for the program, which allows low-income residents to buy monthly transit passes at a reduced rate, on a sliding scale based on household income.

In the first three months of this year, 119,000 people qualified for the program. 

In Edmonton, the program is accessed each month by over 25,000 residents. 

Meaghon Reid, executive director of Vibrant Communities Calgary, said in an interview that she believes the province heard the amount of “distress and urgency” in response to the decision to cut-funding.

“People who rely on this transit pass and who are living in low-income have had a very distressing 24 hours,” Reid said. “This sends a signal that we can’t ignore affordability.”

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