Winnipeg, Nov. 22, 2017 — “As the City of Winnipeg contemplates service cuts and fare hikes to Winnipeg’s much-needed transit system, the Green Party of Manitoba supports a publicly-funded, fare-free system,” says James Beddome, Leader of the Green Party of Manitoba.

The Province under Premier Pallister signalled it will cut $10.7 million from the transit subsidy to the City of Winnipeg. The City has reacted by suggesting further increases to transit fares.

Fare increases would continue the downward spiral of fewer riders and decreasing service, Beddome says. Compared to 2015, the city’s ridership has fallen by 9%, a markedly higher drop than in other Canadian cities.

James Beddome, Leader, Green Party of Manitoba

“That means more cars on the road, more money needed for city road repair, more traffic accidents and higher insurance, more pollution and its resulting health costs, and the list goes on,” says Beddome.

Under the Green Party of Manitoba plan, cost savings for a fare-free system come through reduced transit administration expenses and better planning. For example, “the city would save on the cost of administering the troubled Peggo card system,” says Beddome. Additional funding would come from Provincial carbon-tax revenue.

“While such a change in funding would represent a dramatic shift from today’s subsidized, rider-pay transit economy, the Green Party of Manitoba’s proposal presents a sound option to many of today’s most pressing problems,” says Bedomme.

Transit drivers would also be spared from violent fare disputes.

“The Pallister government fails to understand that cutting public transit funding is not good economic policy,” says Beddome.

UPDATE – NOV. 23, 2017

Green Party Leader James Beddome, in conversation with Ismaila Alfa on CBC Radio’s Up to Speed provides more background on why free public transit would be good for Manitobans. Listen here.