REPORT TO COMMITTEE(S) OF COUNCIL

INTERNAL ROUTING CHECKLIST

 

ORIGINATING DEPARTMENT: Planning, Transit and the Environment

DIVISION:  Transit Service Planning and Development

REPORT AUTHOR: Helen Gault

PHONE No.  842-3636 ext.2435

REPORT TITLE: Community Pass

REFERENCE No.  ACS2007-PTE-TRA-0001

DOCUMENT FILE NAME/PATH:      

 

APPLICANT:        

APPLICANT’S ADDRESS:        

WARD:        

CONTROVERSIAL:    Yes    No

 

To Be Presented To

Date of Meeting

Committees 

1.  Transit Committee

 Next or January 31, 2006

2.       

 Next or      

3.       

 Next or      

Council

 Next or February 14, 2007 ?

Other Divisions/Branches Consulted

Forwarded To

Financial Services Unit or Financial Planning

 YES  NO

Supply

 YES  NO

Legal

 YES  NO

Others      

 YES  NO

Contacted / Consulted / Advised by Department

Elected Official(s) / Ward(s)

     

Public Groups /

Individual(s)

Pedestrian and Transit Advisory Committee

Advertising/Notice

 

Regular Advertising Required

 NO   YES Date:      

Municipal Act Notice Required

 NO   YES Date:      

For Originating Department’s Use

Approved

Date

1.

Originating Division Director or Delegate - - Report is acceptable

Helen Gault

January 5, 2007

2.

Financial Services Unit Manager, Financial Planning or Delegate (if applicable) – Report Recommended to Deputy City Manager

Jim English

January 5, 2006

3.

Supply (if applicable) – Report Recommended to Deputy City Manager

     

     

4.

Other

     

     

5.

Program Manager

     

     

6.

Manager

Joel Koffman

January 9, 2006

7.

Deputy City Manager or Delegate – Report approved to leave Department

Nancy Schepers

     

List of Staff Attending Transportation Committee Meeting

Helen Gault

A/Director, Transit Services

Joel Koffman

A/Manager, Transit Service Planning & Development

     

1.             COMMUNITY PASS

LAISSEZ-PASSER COMMUNAUTAIRE

 

 

 

 

Committee RecommendationS as amended

 

1.         That Council receive this report for information and consideration as part of the 2007 Draft Operating Budget.

 

2.         That Council endorse the continuation of this program.

 

 

 

RecommandationS modifiÉeS du comité

 

1.         Que le Conseil prenne connaissance du présent rapport à titre d’information et à être pris en considération dans le cadre du budget préliminaire de fonctionnement.

 

2.         Que le Conseil appuie la continuation de ce programme.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DOCUMENTATION

 

1.      Deputy City Manager, Planning, Transit and the Environment report dated
19 January 2007 (ACS2007-PTE-TRA-0001).

 

2.      Extract of Draft Minutes, 31 January 2007.

 

 


 

Report to/Rapport au:

Transit Committee/Comité des transports

 

and Council/et au Conseil

 

198 January 2007/le 198 janvier 2007

 

Submitted by/Soumis par: Nancy Schepers, Deputy City Manager/Directrice municipale adjointe

Planning, Transit and the Environment/Urbanisme, Transport en

commun et Environnement

 

Contact/Personne-ressource: H. Gault, Acting Director/Directrice par intérim,

 Transit  Services/Service du transport en commun

842-3636 ext. 2271, helen.gault@ottawa.ca

 

 

City-wide

Ref N°: ACS2007-PTE-TRA-0001

 

 

SUBJECT:

COMMUNITY PASS

 

 

OBJET :

LAISSEZ-PASSER  COMMUNAUTAIRE

 

 

REPORT RECOMMENDATION

 

That Transit Committee and Council receive this report for information and consideration as part of the 2007 Draft Operating Budget.

 

 

 

 

RECOMMANDATION DU RAPPORT

 

(translation to be updated)Que le Comité du transport en commun et le Conseil prennent connaissance du présent rapport à titre d’information et à être pris en considération dans le cadre du budget préliminaire de fonctionnement.

 

Que la Commission de transport recommande au Conseil d’approuver l’utilisation par les participants au Programme ontarien de soutien aux personnes handicapées (POSPH) du laissez-passer communautaire comme option de paiement tarifaire permanent.

 

 

BACKGROUND

 

The City of Ottawa has a policy of promoting access to conventional transit for people with disabilities which includes the continuing addition of accessible buses and routes. Currently, two thirds of the transit fleet is made up of low-floor, fully accessible buses.  The City of Ottawa’s Municipal Accessibility Plan identifies a strategy for improving transit for disabled residents by “adjust(ing) fare policies to encourage (the) use of the conventional route network instead of Para Transpo”.

 

At its meeting of March 19, 2003, the Transportation and Transit Committee directed staff to initiate a pilot project whereby conventional transit services on the OC Transpo fixed-route network would be offered free of charge to people using a wheelchair, walker or scooter.

 

The program was intended to provide an incentive for customers with impaired mobility to try out the expanded accessible transit network, and to help reduce the demand for Para Transpo services.  The free service was offered only to those using a mobility device because this provided a simple, visible mechanism for identifying eligible customers without introducing a new regulatory process or fare media, and because it offered the service to the principal target group of Para Transpo customers.

 

In November 2004, the Persons with DisAbilities Community Coalition, which represents a broad range of agencies that serve people with disabilities, expressed an interest in improving accessible transit by initiating the Community Pass.  The coalition felt that this program would be more inclusive and equitable and serve people with diverse disabilities rather than just those people requiring a wheelchair, walker or scooter.  When the Community Pass was introduced, free transit service for wheelchair, walker and scooter users was discontinued.

 

On March 1, 2006, the Community Pass pilot project was implemented, at the direction of Council.  The Community Pass is targeted to people who receive benefits from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), thus confirming they have a significant disability and a very low income (less than $11,160 per year for a single adult).  Permitting ODSP recipients to purchase the pass was a means to manage the eligibility for the program, and simplified the administration.  The program was also extended to registered users of Para Transpo in order to continue the incentive for those who could use conventional transit.  The pilot project makes available a regular Adult Express Pass (priced at $87.00) at a discounted price of $28.25, which is the same rate as the discounted pass for seniors.

 

The Community Pass pilot project is set to end on June 30, 2007.  An evaluation of the Community Pass program was carried out to determine whether the program has successfully achieved its goal of improving accessibility and whether the cost of the program was accurately projected.  The funding for this program evaluation was shared by City of Ottawa and numerous community agencies that serve disabled residents.

 

The purpose of this report is to present the evaluation results, including the financial and non-financial impacts of the program, and recommend a future direction for the Community Pass program.

 

 

DISCUSSION

 

In order to evaluate the impact the Community Pass program had on customers, a telephone survey of 283 pass users was conducted in August 2006.  Additionally, a group of Community Pass users, agency representatives, and Transit Services staff participated in a focus group, and a small group of Community Pass users responded to a more detailed in-depth survey (available on request from the Clerk’s office).  A survey of 426 pass users was also conducted at OC Transpo sales offices to assist in the evaluation of the financial impact of the Community Pass program (available on request from the Clerk’s office).  The main results of the evaluation surveys appear below.  The overall results show the Community Pass has significantly improved the mobility, personal finances, and general well being of the majority of Pass users.  However, the program has had a higher cost than originally estimated.

 

Impact of Community Pass on Mobility of Users

 

Survey respondents were asked to identify if having a Community Pass affected their ability to ‘travel around’ Ottawa (Table 1).  Approximately 73 per cent of respondents indicated they were able to get around Ottawa ‘more easily’ and 26 per cent of participants reported being able to get around ‘the same’. 

 

Table 1

Survey Response to Mobility Question

 

Has having a Community Pass caused you to get around Ottawa:

All respondents

Number

Per cent

Less easily

        4

         1.4

 

The same

      74

       26.1

 

More easily

    205

       72.4

 

Unsure / don’t know

        0

            0

 

Total

    283

        100

 

 

Survey respondents were also asked to describe how the Community Pass affected their mode of travel, when comparing how they travelled both before and after the Community Pass program was implemented (Table 2).  The survey indicated that for the majority of Community Pass users (72 per cent), the program led to an increase in use of the transit.  Approximately one per cent of survey participants reported decreased use of transit as a result of the pass.  Generally, the survey results show that the Community Pass has increased the use of transit and improved the mobility of disabled residents.

 

Table 2

Mode of Travel of Community Pass Users

 

Because of the Community Pass, do you take/use the following:

More Often

Less Often

The Same

N/A

#

%

#

%

#

%

#

%

Bus or O-Train

204

72.1

4

1.4

70

24.7

5

1.8

Walk or cycle

9

3.2

13

4.6

27

9.5

234

82.7

Wheelchair/scooter

4

1.4

0

0

4

1.4

275

97.2

Taxi

0

0

1

0.4

2

0.7

280

98.9

Your own car

0

0

1

0.4

2

0.7

279

98.9

Friend or family member’s car

0

0

14

5

15

5.3

252

89.7

Para Transpo

9

3.2

8

2.9

9

3.2

255

90.8

Park n’ Ride

0

0

0

0

0

0

282

100

 

Impact of Community Pass on Personal Finances of Users

 

Overall, the survey results indicated that the Community Pass had a favourable impact on users’ finances (Table 3).  When asked to describe how the Community Pass program had affected their monthly transportation costs, approximately 81 per cent reported their costs had decreased, 13 per cent of respondents reported their costs had stayed the same, while approximately 5 per cent of respondents indicated their monthly transportation costs had increased.

 

Those respondents that reported having more money to spend as a result of the program were asked to list up to three things that they allocated their ‘extra’ funds.  Close to 30 per cent of responses related to having more money to spend on groceries.

 

Table 3

Impact of the Community Pass on the Personal Finances

 of Community Pass Users

 

Has having a Community Pass made your monthly transportation costs:

All respondents

#

%

Go up

14

4.9

Go down

228

80.6

Stay the same

36

12.7

Don’t know / unsure

5

1.8

Total

283

100

 

Impact of Community Pass on Well-Being of Users

 

Given the results showing an overall improvement of the financial situation and mobility of pass users, it is not surprising that study participants described favourable changes in other areas of personal well being, which they attributed to the Community Pass program (Table 4). 

 

A majority of participants reported improvements in several areas related to their well being, including, their sense of equality, and self worth.  Most significantly, 72 per cent of participants described a perceived increase in their ‘level of independence’.  This outcome is likely related, in part, to aforementioned descriptions of increased use of transit.  Respondents described the least improvement in their ‘personal safety’, and ‘physical health’.  However, improvements in these areas were still identified by approximately one-third of participants.

 

Table 4

Impact of the Community Pass on the Well Being

Of Community Pass Users

 

How has the Community Pass changed / made you feel?

More

Less

The Same

#

%

#

%

#

%

Level of independence

203

72

1

0.4

79

28

Self worth (self esteem, confident)

157

55.7

9

3.2

116

41.1

Sense of equality (feel like others)

150

53.2

8

2.8

125

44.3

Mental health

138

48.9

3

1.1

141

50

Physical health

111

39.4

3

1.1

168

59.6

Sense of personal safety

92

32.6

4

1.4

186

66

Sense of isolation (feeling alone)

22

7.8

144

51.1

117

41.5

Level of stress

20

7.1

178

63.1

84

29.8

 

A small number of Para Transpo registrants (26) were included in the evaluation study of Community Pass users.  Most of those saw an improvement in their mobility and well being after using the pass.  A small minority saw their monthly transportation costs increase, due to the requirement to top-up their Community Pass transit fee with cash or tickets when using Para Transpo.

 

 

CONSULTATION/PUBLIC NOTIFICATION

 

The Pedestrian and Transit Advisory Committee (PTAC) endorsed the implementation of the Community Pass when it was initially proposed.  PTAC supports the continuation of the program based on the significant benefits the Community Pass provides to ODSP recipients.

 

The following organizations participated in the study and support the Community Pass program: The Social Planning Council of Ottawa, Canadian Mental Health Association (Ottawa Branch), and the Ottawa-Carleton Association for Persons with Developmental Disabilities.

 

 

TRANSPORTATION MASTER PLAN

 

The City of Ottawa Transportation Master Plan sets the objective of improving transit services for the disabled by “…consider(ing) the needs of people with disabilities when setting fares”.

 

 

FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS

 

In the report to the Transportation Committee on June 1, 2005, it was estimated that the loss in annual transit revenue would be $715,000 if free service for people with mobility devices was discontinued and the Community Pass introduced.  In December 2005, transit fares increased and on March 1, 2006 the Community Pass program was introduced.  A budget cost of $530,000 was provided in 2006 to reflect the anticipated partial-year loss in revenues from this pilot project.  If these new fares were used to estimate the cost of the Community Pass program, then the loss in annual transit revenue would be $850,000.

 

A key issue when considering the financial impact of this program is that its impact on transit revenues was estimated, and the actual impact of the program was unknown until the program began.  To understand the actual impact of the pass on transit revenues, Community Pass users were surveyed and asked how they paid their transit fare before the pass was available.  The results of the August 2006 survey carried out at the OC Transpo Sales and Information Offices can be found in Table 5, and are generally consistent with the results of the telephone survey.

 

The survey results show that more Community Pass users had previously paid their fare with cash and/or tickets than originally estimated.  It was expected that 24.4 per cent of Community Pass users would have paid by cash and/or tickets, but in fact 41.5 per cent of them did so.  It was also assumed that former cash/ticket users made approximately four trips per week, but survey results show that they made approximately seven trips per week.  It was originally estimated that the impact on cash/ticket revenue would be a decrease of $50,000, however, because there were more cash/ticket users than estimated and the number of trips they took was significantly higher, the annual revenue impact was a decrease of approximately $470,000.  Conversely, it was estimated that 60.3 per cent of Community Pass users would have paid their fare by using a monthly pass (currently priced at $71.25), but the survey results show that 46.4 per cent of Community Pass users were former monthly pass users.  Therefore, there were fewer monthly pass users than estimated and the annual revenue impact was estimated to be a decrease of $875,000 but actually was a decrease of $780,000.

 

After considering the complete former fare payment behaviour of Community Pass users the actual decrease in annual transit revenue becomes $1.1 million, which is $250,000 more than the revised estimate (using current fares) of $850,000.  This will add an annual pressure of $600,000 above what was provided in the 2006 budget for the pilot project. This additional cost has been reflected and categorized as a service enhancement budget pressure in the 2007 Budget Directions report.

 

Currently the City makes transfer payments to the Province to cover 20 per cent of the medical transportation benefits provided to ODSP recipients.  Since some ODSP recipients are Community Pass users some trips that occurred by using the medical allowance can now occur by using the Community Pass.  The City also provides transit tickets to some people in receipt of social assistance, and the Community Pass is now available to them.  Both programs are small in scale and it is estimated that the offsetting savings from the Community Pass would be minor.

 

Table 5

Method of Fare Payment Before Purchasing a Community Pass

 

Fare Type

Number of Respondents

Percentage of Community Pass Users

Survey Results (%)

Transit Committee Report Estimates (%)

Cash

18

4.2

41.5

24.4

Tickets

145

34

Combination of Cash/Tickets

14

3.3

Regular Monthly Pass

197

46.2

46.4

60.3

Express Monthly Pass

1

0.2

New to Transit

15

3.5

14.1

Wheelchair/Walker/Scooter User

19

4.5

1.2

Other

13

3.1

0

Don't Know

4

0.9

0

Total

426

100

100

 

 

CONCLUSIONS

 

For the vast majority of Community Pass customers, the program has provided great benefits and improved their overall well-being.  The majority of Community Pass users feel that the program has improved their mobility, personal finances, and their general well being.  However, the estimated impact of the program on transit revenues was higher than originally thought.  This can be traced to an underestimation in the number of pass users that formerly paid with cash and tickets.  The annual cost of the Community Pass program is $1.1 million and its impact on the 2007 budget would be a pressure of $600,000 if the recommendation of this report were approved.

 

 

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION

 

Document 1      Community Pass Customer Survey Project – An Evaluation of Ottawa’s Transit Services Community Pass Pilot Program (Distributed separately and on file with the City Clerk)

Document 2      THE COMMUNITY TRANSIT PASS – Sales and Information Office Survey Results – December 2006 (Distributed separately and on file with the City Clerk)

 

 

DISPOSITION

 

Following Transit Committee and Council approval, the Community Pass will be included in the 2007 budget.