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BUDGET: Transit fare hike will boost annual revenue by $110K

The proposed increase impacts transit fares and passes across the board and would take effect on July 1

A proposed City of North Bay transit fare increase has gained preliminary approval by the budget committee.

Based on North Bay Transit's projections, if the service level change is approved and is included in the 2024 operating budget, an estimated increase in transit revenue of $55,351 would be realized from its July 1 implementation date to the end of the year, with an annual increase in full subsequent years of $110,696.

Drew Poeta, the City of North Bay's transit manager broke down the proposal at a recent budget meeting.

"The last transit fare increase was in 2015. Since that time, we've seen substantial increases in our operating costs, material costs, and fuel costs," Poeta told the committee.

The cash fare would rise from $3 to $3.25, with 10-trip cards rising from $27 to $29.25. A monthly adult pass would cost $93, up from $86. A student's monthly pass would go up $6 to $77. See the full fare increase breakdown below:

From the proposed 2024 Operating Budget. Courtesy of the City of North Bay

Poeta continued, "The cash fare average across the province was $3.75. Currently, we are at $3 and the proposal is a $3.25 fare and, basically, an 8 per cent increase across all categories to match that."

A fare in Sault Ste. Marie is $3.25 and in Greater Sudbury, an adult fare costs $4 although Coun. Tanya Vrebosch pointed out Peterborough and Orillia both charge $3, on par with the present fare in North Bay.

Deputy Mayor Maggie Horsfield asked whether the North Bay Transit contract with Canadore College and Nipissing University — transit passes incorporated into student card purchase price — would also increase. Poeta responded that the contract is renewed on a revolving three- or four-year basis and the proposed fare increase would be negotiated into the next deal.

CAO John Severino noted the contract with the schools increases in value to the City over the life of the contract and Poeta confirmed, in response to a follow-up question from the budget chief, that the revenues help but never come close to a full cost recovery scenario.

Only Vrebosch did not support the proposal, saying she worried about how the hike would affect "people below the poverty line or people who are working poor, and if it's their means to get to work ... the monthly pass is almost $100 ... we are the highest per capita of ODSP recipients."

Council members, who will ultimately vote on the budget's approval, spent the first week of meetings asking questions of the management and staff of the municipality's various departments and declaring their preliminary support or opposition to the service level changes.

The proposed tax levy increase in the proposed 2024 Operating Budget began at 4.76 per cent or $5,034,207 above the 2023 operating levy of $105,765,198, for a 2024 operating levy of $110,799,405 but is now hovering around 5 per cent. The levy increase is still subject to service level enhancements or reductions. The final 2024 operating budget will be adjusted to reflect the council's support for the proposals. The budget is expected to be reviewed, refined, and passed in early April.

The budget committee will reconvene on Monday, March 18 at 5:30 p.m. in the Mayor's Boardroom at North Bay City Hall to finalize the service level changes, including the transit fare increase, to be added to the operating budget. Deliberations on the capital budget will also be held over the course of three scheduled meetings March 18–20. Members of the public are welcome to attend.

For more on the process, including links to the budget documents:


Stu Campaigne

About the Author: Stu Campaigne

Stu Campaigne is a full-time news reporter for, focusing on local politics and sharing our community's compelling human interest stories.
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