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No transit charge for medical attendants

Medically required attendants accompanying a person with a disability will be able to ride city transit free of charge in the upcoming year.

Medically required attendants accompanying a person with a disability will be able to ride city transit free of charge in the upcoming year.

City council approved a “two for the price of one” transit fare on both regular transit and specialized handicapped transit services after administration researched other transit policies throughout the province.

In most cases, medically required attendants travel free on specialized handicapped transit services but have to pay a fee to ride on a regular transit bus, except in Edmonton and Red Deer.

City administration recommended following Edmonton’s example so that St. Albert’s policy would fit with neighbouring transit systems.

Council agreed. Beginning Jan. 1, the city will be providing free passes on regular transit for medically required attendants and companions — a move that’s expected to affect less than five people.

“I think we need to demonstrate that we are treating these citizens equally as they are in surrounding communities. It’s very important that it co-ordinates with what’s happening in the region so there is no confusion,” said Coun. Carol Watamaniuk. “I feel when a person requires another person for medical reasons, they should definitely be counted as one person, not two.”

As far as a long-term solution, council agreed during budget talks earlier this week to spend $10,000 for a handibus registration database of the approximate 200 users. Only a small number actually require a personal attendant.

Handibus patrons who are unable to travel without a medically required attendant will be asked to provide this information when registering for the handibus service. They will receive an ID registration card, which allows their attendant to ride free of charge.

The same guidelines will apply to regular transit service.

An overall transit fares strategy will be brought back to council on May 25.