Today COPE confirmed their ongoing commitment to securing reduced transit fares for all low-income adults, regardless of their age. 

Over the past year, the cost of living in Vancouver has skyrocketed by 7.7% (BC Stats, 2022). Vancouverites hardest hit by rising costs are those working less-than Living Wage jobs, those on fixed incomes, and low-income families. One expense that can be eliminated for them is the expense of transit. 

This can be accomplished by extending the BC Bus Pass program, currently used by low-income seniors and residents with Persons With Disability (PWD) designation, to all low-income people in Vancouver – and eventually across the province. 

“There’s no logical reason why a 65 year-old person with a low income qualifies for a BC Bus Pass at $45 per year, but a 64 year-old with a low income has to pay $185.20/month for a 3-zone pass,” said COPE Vancouver City Council candidate Nancy Trigueros.

As of the 2020 census, there were 49,925 individuals in the City of Vancouver between the ages of 18 and 64 living on an income below the Low-Income Cut Off (LICO) threshold. According to the largest study to date, 29% of low-income Vancouverites commute by transit. This translates to 14,500 of the 50,000 individuals below the LICO threshold currently commuting by transit. Providing them access to a low-income transit pass would cost TransLink approximately $16 million in lost fares per year.[1]

“Providing a virtually free transit pass to low-income Vancouverites would incentivize commuters to leave their cars at home,” said Nancy Trigueros. “If this results in a 50% increase in commuting by transit for this group, it would take 7,250 cars off the road in Vancouver, reducing congestion, reducing carbon emissions, and saving money for these low-income households.”

Meeting this increased transit demand will require more buses and transit infrastructure. Those buses plus more drivers and other operational expenditures for 7,250 new transit commuters would cost TransLink $36M per year.[2]

The total estimated cost of this low-income transit pass program – including reduced fares ($16M) and all the new transit service ($36M) – would be $52M. This is only 19% of City of Vancouver’s portion of Carbon Tax revenues collected each year.[3]

In the 2018 BC Budget, the provincial government announced that they would be increasing the Carbon Tax rate over four years, stating that “revenues generated from carbon tax increases will be focused on three broad areas:

  • Carbon tax relief for low- and moderate-income British Columbians
  • Support for emissions intense industry to transition to a low-carbon economy
  • New green initiatives to grow innovation and investment” (p75).

“COPE believes that reducing fares and increasing transit ridership meets all three of these goals,” said Nancy Trigueros. “A $45/year pass for low-income people means they won’t have to carry the financial weight of the transit system with their limited budgets, while also making it easier for them to leave their cars at home. Investments in transit expansion and electric bus fleets will also help achieve the province’s green innovation goals.”

Carbon Tax revenues have increased by 85% since 2018. The City of Vancouver’s portion of annual Carbon Tax revenues is now $149M greater than it was in 2018.[4]

Only a third of these new additional revenues would cover the cost of COPE’s virtually free transit pass for low-income Vancouverites.

“Another strong reason for providing cheap transit passes to low-income people is that, currently, they’re shouldering a disproportionate burden of TransLink revenues,” said Nancy Trigueros. “People earning under $50k are paying 79% of the transit revenues collected by TransLink, while people earning over $100k are paying only 4% of transit revenues – that’s extremely regressive.”

COPE worked with the allonboard campaign in 2018-20, helping to win free transit for kids aged 12 and under. However, the campaign's call for a low-income pass has not yet been taken up or implemented by TransLink or government.

Several other cities in Canada, including Waterloo, Kingston, Hamilton, Windsor, and Calgary, have already implemented reduced-fare bus passes for low-income people. “It’s time to reward low-income Vancouverites, who are already doing their part for the environment by taking transit in the highest numbers, with a $45/year transit pass,” said Nancy Trigueros.



[email protected]


Table: Mode share, number of transit commuters, transit revenues by income bracket for the City of Vancouver.


Income Bracket


Under $50k


Over $100k


% of commuters in each income bracket who commute by transit (mode share)





# of transit commuters





Transit revenues (fares) collected from transit commuters in each income bracket in 2021





Proportion of transit revenues collected from transit commuters of each income bracket in 2021








  1. In 2021, Translink collected $414M in fare revenues. 35% of boardings occur within the City of Vancouver, translating to approximately $145M in fare revenues collected in the City of Vancouver. 11% of transit commuters have incomes below the LICO threshold (14,500 of 129,945 total COV commuters), paying approximately $16M of the $145M total in fare revenues collected in the City of Vancouver. Free transit would therefore cost approximately $16M in lost fares at 2021 service levels, or $27M at 2019 service levels (pre-COVID-19).
  2. Translink’s regional operating expenses were $1,837,376,000 in 2021. With 35% of transit service being inside the COV, operating expenses for transit service in the COV was approximately $643M (35% of 1.8B) in 2021. Service increases to accommodate an additional 7,250 low-income commuters in the COV would mean a 5.5% increase in service (above the current 129,945 commuters) and cost approximately $36M per year.
  3. In 2022, the government of BC budget anticipates $2.3B in Carbon Tax revenues. The COV includes 14% of the BC’s population. 14% of BC Carbon Tax revenues is $324M.
  4. COV’s portion of Carbon Tax revenues increased by $149M over four years, from $175M in 2018 to $324M in 2022.