Kamloops pilot project offers free bus passes to low-income people

Kamloops pilot project offers free bus passes to low-income people

A new pilot project in Kamloops, B.C. is giving free bus passes to 25 low-income people.

Glenn Hilke​, coordinator at the My Place drop-in space, said it cost too much and took too long to hand out regular tickets to his clients. 

So, he approached the City of Kamloops about their ProPASS program, which is usually meant for private businesses, about making an exception and allowing a non-profit organization to provide these passes.

ProPASS is a permanent photo identification card that people can purchase through their employers for a discounted rate of $528 a year ($44 per month). It gives the owner unlimited access to public transit.

"This idea of being able to get a pro-pass is wonderful because I'm saving $55 a month," said Glen MacLagan, one of the recipients of the pass.  

"When you're on disability, $55 is a lot of money."

A regular monthly bus pass in Kamloops costs $53, and for seniors and students the cost is $34.

Because the passes have picture identification on them, if a card is lost or stolen, it's easily replaceable.

Meeting basic needs

"We don't understand, those of us that have cars, or disposable income, how incredibly important and what a gift this is for someone who is struggling to get around town just to take care of basic needs," Hilke said.

It's essential for someone like MacLagan to get around town to visit various soup kitchens and the food bank.

"I live in Sahali in a motel and there's no free food in Sahali, the food bank is on the North Shore," MacLagan said.

"I'm almost 60 and I've got gout and walking is okay but I can't do it non-stop."

Sarah Rhode, who is income assistance,  was also given a transit pass as part of this program.

"[This program] just saved me really," Rhode said. "I'm responsible for going to pick up my children and return them each day so it's very vital for me to be able to have a bus pass."

The program is only able to continue for four months with the amount of funding Hilke has to work with. He's currently working on fundraising to be able to not only continue the program, but also to add to the 10 people on the waiting list for ProPASSes.

"This changes people's lives," Hilke said.  

With files from Daybreak Kamloops