City council approves Regina Transit Master Plan

Regina city council has approved the transit master plan after several rounds of discussion.

At its meeting on Wednesday, council voted nine to one to pass the plan. Councillor Dan LeBlanc did not vote. Councillor Terina Shaw was the one vote against.

The plan lays out a framework for the city's transit system over the next 25 years.

“It provides administration and council with the framework moving forward with how to stage investment in improving transit,” Sandra Masters, the mayor of Regina, said. “Really, it helps with the idea that as the city continues to grow that we’re getting people to where they need to be in an efficient manner so it’s favourable to ride.”

The plan proposes improved services and aims to expand ridership up to 25 per cent of the population by targeting frequency in bus availability and changes to fares, including contactless payment. It would add and adjust bus routes as the city grows.

The proposed plan would allow riders under 12-years-old to ride for free. Some residents who addressed council said that age should be higher.

“What about children aged 13 to 18? They still need to get to school and other places,” Florence Stratton, a Regina resident, said. “No one should be refused service for lack of a fare. In the name of accessibility, equity and inclusion, please make Regina Transit fare free for everyone 18 and under as a first step towards fare free transit for all.”

Representatives from the Regina Public School Board also said all children should receive free rides.

“A youth bus pass costs $64 a month. Multiple that by ten months and that’s an extra $640 a year. This is a cost that many families cannot afford,” Sarah Cummings Truszkowski with the Regina Public School Board said. “Not only would free transit help children all over Regina get to school, but would also help thousands of children in Regina live more equitable lives with accessible transportation.”

Kim Onrait, the executive director of citizen services with the City of Regina, said the recommendation for 12 and under came from comparisons to other cities across Canada.

“We felt, with the information we had, that’s the right direction to start out with,” he said.

Onrait said feedback like that will be taken into consideration before a final decision is made.

“That’s a recommendation from the consultant,” he explained. “There needs to be a report come forward for formal approval of 12 and under or 18 and under, whatever direction council chooses, when the report comes forward,” Onrait said. “We will have information in that report that will help them with their decision making.”

The report is expected to be brought forward to council in late May or June.

The proposed plan has 45 actions to implement, which includes more frequency in bus availability, on demand transit and mobile ticketing.

The goal is for transit to help the city on its quest to become 100 per cent renewable by 2050. The fleet will begin switching to electric in 2024.