The City of Lethbridge is expanding its fee assistance program to provide subsidized bus passes for refugees and low-income residents.
An extra $200,000 allocated from city council during budget deliberations will support the program. The extra money builds off existing recreation and culture fee assistance and a temporary refugee bus pass program.
“We saw great uptake of the refugee bus pass program and we wanted to make sure that became a resource for not just newcomers to our community but anyone who might have financial difficulty accessing transit,” says councillor Belinda Crowson, who brought the initiative forward. “With the addition to the budget, we can now offer resources to more people in need.”
Residents approved for bus pass fee assistance will have two thirds of their bus pass covered. Andrew Malcolm, community social development general manager, says this will work by paying in full for one month, then getting two for free.
“We know access to recreation and culture activities and transportation both help improve quality of life,“ Malcolm says. “By removing financial barriers to these important services, the Fee Assistance Program supports a more inclusive community and provides opportunities to invest in the health and wellbeing of all residents.”
The city says while transitioning to the new model, refugee bus passes will continue to be fully subsidized until August this year. Also, starting in August, Access A Ride users will be able to access fee assistance subsidization.