Is using public transit cost effective you? Are you an intermittent user or potential user of Saskatoon Transit and you are not sure which fare option is right for you? Do you tire of scrounging for change to use as bus fare? This cost effectiveness guide for Saskatoon Transit should help you decide which fare option is right for you.
In a recent column, Jordon Cooper makes the claim that “it is cheaper to drive and pay for parking at their place of employment than it is to take transit”. While I plan a more in depth rebuttal to his column, I’d like to challenge one of the assertions made in his column, namely the cost of the cash fare of $3.10.
Frankly, there is no reason anyone should pay the cash fare when so many different fare options are available to both current and potential transit users. Cash is only one way to pay, and it is the most expensive. But with all of these options, which one is right for you?
I come from the perspective of a “choice rider“, I work down town and choose to use public transit because it is cost effective for me. But sometimes I need to use my own vehicle for work, or travel out of town, and I bike from April into November (weather permitting). So, a monthly pass is often not the best choice for me. In order to figure out what fare option is best for me, I use a spreadsheet. Because as anyone who knows me can attest, six of the most common words out of my mouth are “I’ve got a spreadsheet for that”.
Since the Go-Pass Smart Card tickets cost $24 for 10 rides (adult) there really is no reason one should pay the $3.10 cash fare when using tickets costs $2.40 per ride. A discount of about 23% off the cash fare price for almost all users, save high school students and children, for who the discount is just over 30%. The tickets never expire so using tickets is often a good choice for intermittent users. Buy a 10-pack and reload when necessary. By the way, the cost of parking at a meter? $2 per hour.
An adult pass costing $81 effectively costs $68.85 after claiming the Federal Public Transit Tax Credit on your income tax, effectively a 15% discount on the cost of a pass. This means that if you ride the bus 29 times (not including transfers), the monthly pass has a per-ride cost of $2.37, making this your break even point. Every month in the winter, I look at my work schedule and figure out if I’m going to use the bus at least 29 times. If I am, a pass is the most cost effective option. If not, I’m better off buying tickets on my Go-Pass Smart Card.
If you are a year round user of transit, an annual pass is available for $891 which is $757.35 after the tax credit. The break even point drops to 26 rides per month, but you would need to use transit at least 26 times per month, every month, otherwise you’d still be better off with monthly passes.
For the most part the only people who don’t benefit from the tax credit are those who already have enough non-refundable tax credits to reduce their tax payable to zero. Students have to be cautious here, since they need to look at whether they have enough non-refundable tax credits BEFORE claiming their tuition, textbook, and education credits to reduce their tax payable to zero. If they don’t, then they can claim, and benefit from the credit. Their tuition, textbook, and education credits carry forward to future years (or can be transferred) until they are needed. The Public Transit Tax Credit must be claimed in the year you purchased your bus passes.
Ultimately there really is no reason for anyone to pay the full cash fare when less expensive options are easily available. The real choice comes down to whether buying tickets (not eligible for Federal tax credit) or a monthly pass is more cost effective for your own personal usage.
I hope this cost effectiveness guide for Saskatoon Transit helps transit users, from “captive” riders who have little choice in transportation options, to “choice” riders looking for the best bang for their buck, to potential new riders looking to make a fair and reasoned cost comparison between different mode choices.