Transportation is the second-highest cost - only behind housing - for low-income households
Accessing employment and vital services during the pandemic is especially difficult for those who can’t afford automobiles. A transit pass can make all the difference in being able to get and hold a job, accessing critical services and getting groceries.
Since 1997, the CSPC has run a successful low-income transit assistance program. We have partnered with over 70 agencies across the region to distribute tickets and passes to people in low-income needing access to critical programs and services.
As a program partner, BC Transit provides the Community Council with discounted transit passes and tickets that we make available on a two-for-one ratio to agency partners. Those tickets and passes are then distributed for free to low income individuals accessing programs through their agencies. These agency partners serve a broad range of vulnerable groups from people with brain injuries to women in transition housing and from Indigenous communities to newcomers.
Tickets are sold in sheets of ten at a cost of $22.50 (for two sheets at two-for-one this amounts to about $1.13 per ticket). Passes are also available for $85 ($42.5 per pass with the two-for-one) and youth/seniors passes are available at $45 ($22.5 with the two-for-one).
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Participating agencies report on transit ticket usage throughout the year and participate in an annual meeting. The annual meeting provides a unique opportunity to focus on transportation needs, and gaps in the system in this region. This program has highlighted the importance of transportation to enable people to meet basic needs and to fully participate in community life.
Criteria for Participation
In order to participate in the Low-Income Transit Assistance Program, agencies must:
- Have the mandate to work primarily with low-income people;
- Provide assurance that the tickets are being distributed free of charge to assist people with low income with urgent transportation needs; and
- Complete the necessary Transit Assistance Program reports and return them to the Community Social Planning Council.
Only agencies based in BC's Capital Region may participate in this program. Information provided by participating agencies is used to monitor the free distribution of bus tickets. This information contributes to a better understanding of transportation trends and needs within BC's Capital Region.
*The Community Social Planning Council DOES NOT distribute BC Transit tickets or passes directly to individuals*
Steps in participating in the Low-Income Transit Assistance Program (LITA):
- Download and fill out the 2021 LITA CSPC Sales Agreement with Agencies and send it to email@example.com.
- Once the agreement has been approved, you may begin your order process by downloading and filling out the LITA Order Form and sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- When ordering and picking up your tickets and passes, please follow the NEW 2021 LITA Order Schedule
Perkins from VIRCS
Hi! I'm Perkins and am one of the lucky people who got the Bus Pass Assistance. It really helped me a lot when it comes to my savings since I can ride a bus anytime anywhere, with free of charge. I got this pass from VIRCS and I use it a lot not just to go to/from work but also for me to travel and enjoy beautiful Vancouver Island. I am grateful and overwhelmed with the benefits that I am getting through this program. May you be blessed more. Thank you.
Nabeel from VIRCS
The Low-Income Transit Assistance Program has helped me get to places when I was having financial issues and had a new baby. I got the pass from VIRCS and use it to get to and from work as well as get to and from appointments.
Recipient from ICA
I am suffering from a lot of health issues but only hope for future is education. ICA has helped me a lot to achieve confidence in improving and learning English; low income family budget does not allow me to buy tickets. I appreciate the way ICA helps us for transport and education. Kindly allow me to continue to receive free tickets. (Single Parent)
Recipient from Cridge Centre
I am writing to thank you for helping me out for the monthly bus pass which is very helpful for me in everyday living, as for now I was relying only on the spousal support of $500 a month. I don't have any source of income yet until I get my permit for work. I am still waiting for it, for now I am doing volunteering work. The rest of the week I use it to get to appointments. Having a monthly bus pass is a really big help for me and means a lot. It lessens my stress as well.
Recipient from Bridges for Women
I am grateful for the opportunity to attend the programs offered at Bridges for Women. The skills and understanding I've learned here have already helped me change positively some trauma affected areas of my life. For this reason, the bus passes provided through Bridges has been invaluable. Without it, I would not have the financial means to attend.
Burnside Gorge Community Association
The demographics in and around the neighbourhood of Burnside Gorge Community Association are that of many low income families. The bus tickets help our clients to find or maintain housing, access job interviews or meet with their counsellors. We don't have the budget to purchase the number of bus tickets needed to assist our families and rely on the buy 1 get 1 free model that LITA provides. One of the biggest users of bus tickets is our Homeless Family Outreach Program. Over the past year, we have seen the number of families who access this program increase dramatically and the kinds of crisis they are in increase in severity. More and more families are presenting to us as "homelessness" as their issue and not just being at risk for homelessness.
Cridge Transition House for Women
The individuals we serve have been displaced from their homes because of abuse. Most women have very limited access to the family finances when they come in; in fact, many come with virtually no money. Often times, they have to travel to areas of town that are far away from the house to attend legal meetings, apply for income assistance, attend to their children's needs and apply for housing. It is essential for them to have transportation to these locations, and we rely heavily on the tickets purchased through the LITA program to make this happen. The impact of poverty in the lives of the women that we serve is becoming more and more significant with each passing year. Income assistance rates remain at such a low level that women cannot survive without support from outside sources. A single women living on $590 per month, for example, simply does not have enough money to pay for food and rent, yet alone transportation.
We work with adults that range from age 18 right up to their 80's, a group of people who are marginalized and living in poverty. Providing bus tickets to our clients allows them to attend appointments with health care providers, get to work, search for housing or attend training programs that increase their employable skills. Many of our clients also attend support groups and counselling sessions to help deal with issues arising from trauma they suffered in the past. We provide bus tickets to those who are staying with us here at the shelter but more and more we are also providing tickets to those who are housed in the community and are the "working poor." Between Rock Bay Landing Shelter staff and Client Service Workers we give out 500 to 600 tickets a month and probably turn down about as many requests for tickets due to budget constraints. The increase in demand is likely due to the increase in numbers of people using shelter services, both those who are homeless and those who are working poor.
Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Society
Without the bus ticket program, my clients could not go to job interviews, hospital appointments, income assistant interviews, counselling and run away from domestic abuse. The bus ticket program not only provides new comers with opportunities to access community services but also learn about BC transit systems. We have been providing clients with bus tickets to attend a number of workshops which have increased their self-esteem and sense of belonging in Canada.
Victoria Child Abuse Prevention & Counselling Centre
We see many families at the Centre who do not own vehicles and would not normally be able to cover the costs of weekly travel to and from the agency due to their restricted budgets. Thankfully, the LITA enables clients and their families to come to our centre for the services they so desperately need. We expect to see further increase in our ticket usage in 2020 as a number of inquires have been made by current and wait-listed clients/families.
Victoria Disability Resource Centre
The program allows us to provide tickets to our volunteers, most who are on a limited income, to travel to and from their homes to volunteer with us. Our volunteers are a core piece to ensure the successful running of our centre. We also provide tickets to clients in crisis, if a need is expressed. We order bus passes for each of our staff, two of whom have just begun to work with us. As a non-profit organization which employs persons with disabilities, staff are not able to afford their own passes as most are on a limited income as well.
Hulitan Family and Community Services Society
I would like to share a story about a young family who has been provided free bus tickets for the past three years to get to our Journeys of the Heart (JOH) program in the Westshore. This family is struggling with poverty, the mom works part-time and dad does cultural sharing and he is an artist which means his monthly income is never reliable. This family has three children, their youngest son James has been coming to our program since he was a year old. In the beginning of this year, James was not able to talk in class, because of his shyness and he was behind developmentally for his age. In the last few months, this little boy has blossomed into a happier, more confidence child due to the program's safe and friendly environment and the devotion his parents who brings him to class come rain or shine. Now, James can sit quietly whilke working in his workbook, he can sign the cultural song and participate in the wing chief role with great pride.
This family would not be able to attend JOH without the bus tickets your agency provides Hulitan on a monthly basis. This Aboriginal child will have a greater chance to complete his grade 12, because of his positive early years' experience and the devotion of his parents who learnt in program that education is an important part of a child's rearing to become more successful and healthy adult.