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Transit fare changes, including fare capping, coming in Regina

Regina City Hall Update - Executive Committee approves proposed transit fare changes, will return to council for approval
Regina Transit 2
Changes are set for August 1 to bus fares in the City of Regina, with fare-capping creating more opportunities to ride the bus.

REGINA - Changes are coming to Regina transit fares with some new rates and fare capping coming in the near future.

Regina Deputy City Manager of City Operations Kurtis Doney presented the report on the changes to the Executive Committee meeting on Wednesday at City Hall, which are designed to keep up with technology and simplify the fare system. It coincides with the award by Regina Transit of an RFP to Cubic Corporation for a new fare collection system for the city, which will also mean new technology introduced.

One of the biggest changes coming will be fare-capping, which is new for Regina. How it works, according to a city memo, is that customers will load value onto the new fare system’s app or card, with the system deducting the appropriate fare depending on how much the customer has used in the current month.

But there will be a maximum built in to the system on what can be charged to customer in a day or a month. For instance, an adult with a Regina Transit account would pay $2.90 for each of the first three rides that day, at which point the fare is capped at $8.70. Any other rides that day will be free. Similarly, someone who reaches 31 rides in a month would also have any subsequent rides for the month for free.

This is see as helping customers save money and avoid having to pay large sums up front for a bus pass, and also reduce the per ride cost for those using the bus more than 31 times per month. 

“Sometimes we’re a little late to the party when it comes to technology implementation, but now that we have it it’s one of the benefits that we can utilize and we know it’s been utilized in other cities in North America,” Mayor Sandra Masters said to reporters following the meeting.

Also coming is a streamlining of the cash fare to make it simpler and easier for customers and operators. Currently, adult and senior cash fares are $3.25 and youth fares for those 14-18 are $2.75, to be paid with coins only. Youth 13 and under are able to ride for free. 

But under the change, a consistent single cash fare would be set at $3.25 for everyone including youth 14-18, and would remove the lower $2.75 youth cash fare. 

A single cash fare is already in place in several Canadian cities including Victoria, Edmonton, Windsor, Hamilton and Lethbridge. The thinking is it will also cut down on any fare disputes between operators and customers. 

While cash fare for youth will increase, other fare options for youth are decreasing. The rates for electronic fares will be set at $2.90 per ride for adults and $2.45 for youth 14-18. As well, there are reductions in the youth monthly pass from $64 to $60, and in the affordable youth pass from $51 to $48.

Youth will also see a lower daily fare cap set at $7.35 compared to $8.70 for adults and seniors, in line with the lower electronic fares for youth. The monthly fare cap is also lower at $60 for youth compared to $88 for adults. Seniors see the monthly cap set even lower at $30.

The thinking from the city is that youth users would end up ahead in the long run with savings on monthly passes and from additional free bus rides from fare capping.

“With the new fare system, Regina transit will simplify its current fare structure to making purchasing fares more accessible, to making fares more equitable, and to eliminate inefficient practices that were developed due to limitations of the previous fare collection system,” said Doney. “This will be done using the new account-based technology available to the new fare system, along with the addition of fare-capping which is a new concept for Regina, online purchasing, and onboard contactless payment using debit or credit or your phone.” 

Doney said it is anticipated there will be an impact on revenue in the first year, with a loss of $100,000. But once fare-capping gains traction and residents realize the convenience associated with it, he said, it is anticipated revenue will increase approximately $250,000 in the next two years.

There was widespread support for the transit fare changes on council, but council was split on raising the youth cash fare. Councillor Shanon Zachidniak moved an amendment to keep the cash fare at $2.75 for youth.

That amendment ended up losing on a 4-4 tie vote. It was noted during that discussion that very few youth riders pay bus fare using cash. According to numbers provided at council, less than 10 per cent of all Regina Transit customers currently pay bus fare using cash, and less than two per cent of those customers are youth. 

The vote on the main motion recommending the new transit fare system passed unanimously. A resolution  to that effect will now go to council for final approval at their May 6 meeting; that resolution will also call on the City Solicitor to prepare the necessary bylaw amendments. Once all the approvals go through, the change in fares is set to take effect Aug. 1.