Bus pass pilot program gets boost after St. John's pushes back on funding

·2 min read
The province is contributing $2.1 million in funding this year to continue the bus pass pilot program it operates with the City of St. John's. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC - image credit)
The province is contributing $2.1 million in funding this year to continue the bus pass pilot program it operates with the City of St. John's. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC - image credit)
Jeremy Eaton/CBC
Jeremy Eaton/CBC

The Newfoundland and Labrador government has changed tack and agreed to a City of St. John's demand to put money back into Metrobus funding, after the province expanded free access to the service in its latest budget while trimming its spending.

A bus pass pilot project began in 2020, providing free Metrobus or Go Bus passes to people who receive income support.

The government announced in its spring budget that more people will be eligible for the pass program, although it simultaneously allocated less money for the program than in previous years.

City council said the province was effectively asking Metrobus to do more with less.

Children, Seniors and Social Development Minister John Abbott announced changes to the program at a news conference Monday. Changes include putting funding back to $2.1 million per year.

The program is being expanded to people who recently qualified for income support in St. John's, as well as in nearby Mount Pearl and Paradise.

Abbott said the move to allow greater access to bus passes will help "create a more inclusive community [and] lead to more social and economic benefits for more people with low income."

In an interview with CBC News in April, St. John's Coun. Ian Froude said it would be impossible to continue the project with anything less than $2.1 million from government.

In a statement to CBC News, the Department said the additional $200,000 was added following more consultation with Metrobus and the city.

The program is also being broadened to give passes to youth receiving services through the province's youth services program. They will get a pass through regular contact with their government social worker.

Additionally, seniors receiving a guaranteed income supplement can also avail of a pass.

Metrobus expects the passes to be issued starting June 1, according to a news release.

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