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Back to school: Calgary students pay more to ride city transit

City students heading back to school via Calgary Transit next week will be a little lighter in the wallet.

Student rates for Calgary Transit increased from $74 to $77 per month, the City of Calgary confirmed to LiveWire Calgary.

Earlier this year, $60 million in budget cuts was approved by City Council. Calgary Transit service took one of the biggest hits. Service was cut by 80,000 hours and frequency and span of rides was reduced.

For Barbara Silva with Support our Students (SOS), the increase in student rates represents a barrier to accessing public education.

“We should be making it increasingly easy to get to school, not putting up more barriers,” said Silva.

“At the end of the day the people who bear the brunt of those cuts are our most marginalized people. Kids don’t have an income. This is how we slide down the slippery slope.”

Rebates another barrier: Silva 

Families can apply for a transit rebate at Calgary Board of Education and Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) schools. Eligible families can receive a rebate up to $54.90 for each monthly pass. 

But according to Silva, the rebates are another obstacle for parents to tackle in their busy lives. 

“It’s just another way of putting an onus on marginalized people living in poverty, people living near poverty and people with food insecurity,” said Silva.

“We’re putting the onus on them and making them do more work when we should be creating a system that’s barrier free.”

Overall yellow bus service levels maintained: CBE

Students assigned to yellow school bus service will be charged the proposed fee of $365 per year. On their website, the CBE said that’s an increase of less than five per cent from the previous year and the fee is subject to Board of Trustee and Ministerial approval.

As for changes to yellow bus transportation, the CBE states levels will be similar to the previous school year for the majority of students.

Here’s a breakdown of what parents and students can expect:

  • Elementary students will access a stop within 1.6 km of their homes 
  • Middle school/junior high students will access a stop within 1.8 km of their homes
  • The majority of students will access a bus stop that is approximately 500 m from their homes
  • Students attending an Alternative Program will continue to access yellow school bus service within a congregated stop model
  • The majority of students in larger alternative programs (French Immersion and Traditional Learning Centres) will have a stop within 1 km from home
  • The longest distances to a yellow bus stop will be for students travelling across the city to a program at limited sites
  • Students currently using Calgary Transit will continue to use public transit
  • Mid-day kindergarten service is maintained for all programs

The CBE said fall alterations to the Education Act may result in changes to transportation eligibility, services levels and fees.

Lifelong transit use should be encouraged: Silva

Silva would like to see a Calgary Transit student system that encourages people from an early age to use the service.

“I think it would do well for Calgary Transit to create a Monday to Friday school pass. Not just a student pass, but a school pass that’s highly discounted to generate transit users.”

“So then they’ve got lifelong transit users. People who use transit from an early age will grow to depend on it later in life. Which helps so many things, it helps traffic, it helps the climate crisis… I think what we lack continually is a vision for things.”