Photo shows a HSR supervisor car on the right, with a HSR 60-foot articulated bus to its left. Both are waiting at an intersection during a red light.
A Hamilton Street Railway supervisor vehicle and articulated bus in Downtown Hamilton in late June 2020 Credit: Joey Coleman / The Public Record

Hamilton’s public transit agency is looking at decreasing single ride fares by 30 percent for low-income Hamiltonians with a new “Fare Assist” program that will replace free (“Voluntary”) fares for riders with mobility devices and the “Affordable Transit Pass” program that gives a 50 percent discount on monthly passes to low-income riders.

HSR managers expect approximately 88,000 Hamiltonians will qualify for the program based upon 2021 census figures.

“This program is expected to provide greater opportunity for access than the suspended programs and represents a more equitable product offering,” Director of Transit Maureen Cosyn Heath told Council in April.

Riders with mobility devices such as walkers, scooters, and wheelchairs presently ride the HSR at no charge. Additionally, Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) cardholders ride free.

“This program is all particularly operationally problematic and provides greater benefits to persons with visible disabilities over those who may have invisible disabilities,” Cosyn Heath stated as a reason for the change.

The new program will not provide a free fare option for these users.

Adult fares on programmed PRESTO cards will be $1.89 per trip.

The City lists the following income cut-offs for the program, using the Low-Income Measurement After-Tax.

1 $26,570
2 $37,576
3 $46,021
4 $53,140
5 $59,412
6 $65,083
7 $70,298
8 $75,151
9 $79,710
10 $84,022

An online public survey is open until May 26 on the City’s engagement website.

Council will vote on this plan at a later date.

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Published: May 9, 2023
Last edited: May 9, 2023
Author: Joey Coleman
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One reply on “HSR Looking at Fare Assistance Program, But Will End Automatic Free Transit for Mobility Device Users”

  1. Bill Harrison

    For a legally blind odsp recipient with a before tax income of $15;000 removing the free busfare for the blind that has been in effect since ww2 when veterans returned from the wR with visual disabilities. Is like standing on the shoulders of a drowning man

    With rising costs and an income that is far below the poverty line adding more pressure by charging us for busfare after 75 years of that exemption is criminal. A family of 10 can have a family income of $90.000 and relieve the same benefit as someone with a before tax income of $15,ooo Is unexplainable to me it is politically wrong
    As well as being uncaring and just wrong. These measures cause us to be trapped at home losing our independence. It will also greatly push up the demands on DARTS as if we are being penalized for being independent why not have a door to door taxi for the same cost.

    Give your head a shake and see what system is inequitablele

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