Winnipeg, MB — Green Party leader James Beddome was handing out free bus tickets at Osbourne Junction today as a way of promoting the party’s fare-free transit policy.

“If we want to get serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions then we need to work on ways to get people out of single-occupancy fossil-fuel burning vehicles,” said Beddome. “One way to help achieve this would be to make public transit fare-free.”

The Greens say they will encourage cities in Manitoba to provide fare-free transit by offering to fund 60% of the transit operating expenses for any city that adopts a fare-free transit system.

According to the 2019 City of Winnipeg preliminary budget, the total operating budget for Winnipeg Transit is $204 million. Currently fares generate $86.5 million in revenue, the City provides $70.5 million, and the Province only provides $42 million. 

“Clearly the Pallister government is not investing enough in public transit in this province, and that is why Winnipeggers face the threat of the potential loss of bus service,” said Beddome referring to ongoing labour negotiations that threaten service.

Beddome said that under a Green Party government the City of Winnipeg could expect an additional $80 million in funding from the province, with the City of Winnipeg contributing an additional $5 million to provide fare-free transit in Winnipeg.

The funding offer would be made to other Manitoba cities such as Brandon, Selkirk, and Thompson that currently operate public transit systems. 

“In addition to promoting transit use and reducing emissions, introducing a fare-free transit system would result in faster loading times and hence fewer service delays,” said Beddome. “It would also result in fewer disputes between drivers and riders over fare collection, making transit safer for everyone.”