Bus trips are still free on weekends until the end of the month, but starting Monday, transit riders will need to show their passes or pay half-price fares.

December pass holders will get discounts for a new pass in March, but there will be no more free rides after February.

That is the transit rider incentive plan that city council voted for after rejecting OC Transpo’s previously advertised compensation package late Wednesday night.

It was irresponsible for OC Transpo to post the original incentive program before council approved it, said Mayor Larry O’Brien, but the new trimmed-down plan was a reasonable solution that would not transfer the burden onto taxpayers.

“It’s unfortunate that some of the information that went up on the website was misleading,” he said. “I’m also comfortable that taxpayers in the city would be much happier as a result.”

“It might not be as good as what was reported originally, but I think it is a good compromise,” said Orleans War Coun. Bob Monette.

Capital Ward Coun. Clive Doucet called it a desperation move that will delay a buildup to pre-strike ridership numbers.

“I think we had one chance to get this right and we got it wrong,” he said. “It should have been a really generous return-to-transit that would have made people feel good about it. We’ve just done enough to annoy people. It’s a kind-of everybody loses package.”

Now that the decision is made, Bay Ward Coun. Alex Cullen said the focus is on the revised 2009 transit budget, being presented on March 4.