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Labour Council challenges council on free public transit

Targeting elderly, disabled and those experiencing poverty

The Hamilton and District Labour Council is calling for a significant expansion of free public transit. Calling the campaign the Care Fare Public Transit initiative, the campaign targets groups in the community who have the highest barriers and needs to using public transit and will ask  City Council to extend free transit to:

1.         Students aged 17 and under.

2.         Anyone aged 60 and older.

3.         Anyone on ODSP or OW.

4.         Anyone with a medical disability.

Hamilton and District Labour Council President, Anthony Marco, says “while we believe that public transit should be free for all Hamiltonians in our city, there are definitely some groups that need it on an immediate and sustained basis because of barriers to accessibility and affordability.”

The proposal will be presented as a delegation to the City’s General Issues (Budget) Committee on February 6th. The Council is suggesting that the extension of free transit  be phased in over the next few years of the budget process. “We realize that rolling out all four of these categories in this budget year may be prohibitive for the City/HSR, but kickstarting the conversation about more accessible and affordable public transit will ultimately benefit all working class people,” said Marco.

In the news release the Council notes there have been several cities across the country experimenting with versions of “zero fare” public transit for different demographic groups including Hamilton, Kingston, Victoria, and Canmore. In the U.S., Boston, San Francisco and Denver are experimenting with zero fare. In late 2019, Kansas City, Missouri, became the first major U.S. city to approve a fare-free public transit system.

In Kansas City, “Almost 90% of the riders surveyed said they rode the buses more as a result of Zero Fare. About 92% said it allowed them to shop for food more often; 88% said they could see their healthcare providers more easily or more often; 82% said it allowed them to get or keep a job; and 86% said it made them feel like city leadership is concerned about their needs.”


The campaign has been endorsed by many local organizations, including Just Recovery Hamilton, Hamilton Transit Riders Union, Environment Hamilton, Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion, YWCA Hamilton, United Way Halton/Hamilton, The Council of Canadians (Hamilton Chapter), Hamilton 350 among other community and labour groups.

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