Dalhousie employees get bus discount

Staff receive 25% break on passes

Gino Ranieri holds up his LinkPass at the Help Desk in the Killam Library. Photo: Katelynn Gough
Gino Ranieri holds up his LinkPass at the Help Desk in the Killam Library. Photo: Katelynn Gough

More Dalhousie University employees will be riding buses around the Halifax Regional Municipality this year.

Three hundred employees at Dalhousie purchased discounted bus passes through SmartTrip, a program run through the HRM. The pilot program, which offers a 25 per cent discount off of transit passes, will run from January 1 to Dec. 31, 2013. Employees say this is something they’ve wanted for years and they finally got what they were looking for.

Gino Ranieri, who works at the Help Desk at Dal’s Killam Library, doesn’t drive and relies on the bus to get to and from work. He missed the initial email sent out about the passes. Luckily, some other staff members mentioned it to him.

He decided to sign up for the more expensive Link bus pass that allows him to take express buses.

“It’s an extra eight bucks plus it’s like the money’s there in my pants,” he says. “I don’t have to worry about grabbing change, it’s right there.”

He pays $63.75 a month for the discounted bus pass. A regular LinkPass costs $85.

Dave McCusker is the manager of strategic transportation planning for HRM. He says SmartTrip tries “to work with the employer to get their employees to make more sustainable commuting choices.”

He wasn’t sure how the program would work at Dalhousie but is happy with the results.

“Dalhousie suggested to us that there might be between 500 and 700 people sign up and that was a little overwhelming,” he says. “We’re quite happy with how many we’ve got just from those initial three workplaces and hopefully as we expand it out through the workplaces we’ll get quite a few people involved.”

Commuters taking Metro Transit.
Commuters taking Metro Transit. (Photo: hfx_chris / Wikipedia)

Caroline King, the transportation officer at the Dalhousie Office of Sustainability, says it’s been a success. Although their numbers were lower than the 600 people they hoped for, she says they did meet their goal for what she calls “new riders.”

“We met our target. We got about 10 per cent so that’s really good,” she says.

These new riders either gave up their parking passes with the university or will not renew them after the term. They were given an extra $80 off as incentive. They were also entered to win a bike from Cyclesmith, the bicycle shop on Quinpool Road. Tax credits were also available.

Heather Dominey, the administrative assistant for advising and access services at Dalhousie, takes the bus every day.She says there were always incentives to get a parking pass because of their staff discount. Now, there is a reason to buy a bus pass too.

“It’s great downtime for yourself to hop on the bus at the end of the day and have that little bit of time to yourself before going home. And of course it saves the environment as well,” she says.

King says she hopes the pilot program will become a permanent one at Dalhousie.
“It’s a really great program that they’ve started and they kind of [created] a way to reduce congestion in the HRM.”