A pilot program offering free annual Halifax Transit bus passes for people who receive Employment Support and Income Assistance (ESIA) in Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) is now a permanent program.
The pass is provided to any ESIA recipient, as well as their spouse and dependents, without having to provide proof of their transportation needs. The cost is covered by the Department of Community Services.
“Having a transit pass in hand has given our clients the freedom to travel within their community for whatever reason, whether it be for medical appointments, employment, grocery shopping or community events,” said Kelly Regan, Minister of Community Services. “There are huge mental health benefits when you are able to make your own choices.”
Focus group participants say the pass significantly reduced social isolation and increased their sense of inclusion, giving them the freedom to travel, visit family and friends, and participate in community activities.
Existing bus passes will be renewed automatically on July 1. All eligible clients do not need to reapply and will receive a new pass in the mail by June 30.
New applicants can apply at the following Community Services offices in HRM:
- Lower Sackville – Cobequid Centre, 40 Freer Lane
- Cole Harbour – Cole Harbour Place, 51 Forest Hills Parkway
- Halifax – 7071 Bayers Road, Suite 1001
- Halifax – MacDonald Building, 2131 Gottingen St.
- Dartmouth – 90 Alderney Dr., Suite 201
This program is an investment in people who now have a convenient, economical means of accessing daily necessities and activities. It is at the heart of what public transit is intended to be, a reliable means of connecting all people with their community. – Mike Savage, mayor, Halifax Regional Municipality
Every day I take eight buses. We get up, take two buses to school, I come back. Then at the end of the day I take two more buses back to Halifax and then come back. And then if we have to go to swimming lessons, two more. So minimum eight buses a day. So, it’s helped me. [My daughter] wouldn’t be living with me and having the situation we have right now if it wasn’t for the bus pass. – Department of Community Services client
I feel more like a participant in my community, like I’m more welcome, like I am more part of the community with my bus pass. – Department of Community Services client
In some of our situations, life happened to us, it’s not our fault. Circumstances happen, so why do we have to keep being penalized? But by having a bus pass, it’s like you’re free. I feel free. – Department of Community Services client
- department clients are not identified by name for privacy reasons
- there are more than 8,500 free bus passes now in use, supporting more than 10,000 people