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Regina’s proposed Transit Master Plan, which lays out the city’s aspirations for public transit over the next 25 years, was approved by executive committee on Wednesday.

The motion carried with a vote of nine to one, with councilor Shaw voting against and councilor Mohl was absent.

The plan will be discussed in city council on May 4.

Seven delegates spoke at Wednesday’s executive council meeting on the plan.

The plan proposes the city spends $90 million dollars over the next 25 years and aims to expand transit and bring ridership up to 25 per cent of the population by targeting frequency in bus availability and changes to fares including contactless payment.

Sophie Young, a high school student who takes the bus often, spoke at the meeting Wednesday. She feels there are many barriers that still exist in the current system like long wait times and ineffective transfer times and price.

“Being a busy high school student,” she said. “I cannot afford to wait for a bus that comes every 30 minutes with a high chance of delay.”

The proposed plan has transit users under 12 years old being able to use the service for free. Regina resident Jim Elliott would like to see that increased to 18 years old to reduce the need for youth and young adults to buy a car.

“This coupled with the UPass system at the University of Regina will truly be the best start to supporting public and active transportation,” he said.

The plan will also add and change bus routes as the city continues to grow at a rate that is outpacing the current transit system.

“As Regina as a regional center has industrial and business growth,” said Thomas Pacy of Dillon Consulting. “This status quo is not going to be able to facilitate much more growth. It’s efficient [now] but as those growing pains start to hit, you are going to need to provide more transit.”

Mayor Masters said there is a delicate balance between growing the population while making transit accessible for people who don’t yet live in the city.

“We know you need a good transit system to be a great city, not losing sight of the fact that we need to grow too,” she said.

One of the areas needing better access to transit is the new Aurora Boulevard area near Costco.

Carla Harris said the expansion of transit would give both employers and potential employees – who are usually low income or work multiple minimum wage jobs – more access and ability to apply for work in newer areas of the city.

“There’s a lot of opportunity for work,” she said. “We need to focus on getting jobs accessible by transit. It is for that group that [transit] will have the largest impact on their lives.

“We are excited to see the city move towards a regional approach to transit,” said Ross Zimmerman, regional planner for the RM of Edenwold.

The RM said they conducted a survey in which 62 per cent of business owners and 39 per cent of employees said “providing transit options to commuters was important to the development of the area.”

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