How do you get more people choosing to ride the bus? The City of Brandon is trying an unconventional approach.

With the expectation that annual increases erode rather than build ridership, Brandon has dramatically cut transit fares effective January 1, 2012. For example, the adult cash fare went down from $2.15 to $1.15 (47% decrease) and a book of 10 tickets went from $17.00 to $10.00 (41% decrease).

Monthly passes stayed the same and off-peak passes were eliminated. However, transfers were also eliminated, meaning riders on short trips benefit but not those needing more than one bus to reach their destination.

The City of Winnipeg, on the other hand, continues to raise transit fares by 5 cents each January 1st. In a surprise move this year, City Council approved an additional 20 cent increase reportedly to raise revenue for rapid transit. Here at Green Action Centre, we think it’s time to get cars and trucks off welfare instead.

It will be very interesting over the next year to see if Brandon’s innovative take on transit fares pays off with big increases in ridership and additional revenue. If so, Winnipeg could learn a lesson or two from the Wheat City.

For more details and links, check out West End Dumplings.