Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps says free bus passes for youth will be available for use at the beginning of December.

The free bus passes for youth living in the City of Victoria, between the ages of 12 and 19, will be in effect on Dec. 1. Youth will be able to start coming down to Victoria City Hall, located at 1 Centennial Square, at the end of November to pick up the bus pass. However, the exact pickup dates haven’t been announced yet.

“By the end of the month, people will be able to come in, pick up their bus passes and ride the bus on behalf of the City of Victoria,” Helps said.

In June, the Victoria Regional Transit Commission approved a City of Victoria motion to provide free transit for all youth who live at an address in the city no later than Nov. 30, 2019.

On Tuesday, a motion passed at a Victoria Regional Transit Commission Meeting approving a U-Pass for the City of Victoria, to be purchased by the city at a rate of $11.25 per pass per month.

“The City of Victoria will bulk purchase 7,200 bus passes from transit and distribute them at no cost to 7,200 students in the City of Victoria between the ages of 12 and 19,” Helps said.

Youth aged 18 and younger currently pay $2.50 a ride on BC Transit or $45 for a monthly pass. Children 12 years and younger can ride free when accompanying a pass-carrying guardian.

Helps said the city has been working hard with the Greater Victoria School District to turn a student card from someone who lives in Victoria into U-Pass, but it’s not possible for this calendar year.

“So what’s going to happen students will need to come into the City of Victoria, show their proof of address and get their bus pass,” Helps said. She added that student passes should be converted to U-Passes by September 2020.

Helps said that the cost of the bus passes this year will be covered by parking revenue from 2019 and 2020.

From September 2020 onward, the cost of the bus passes is expected to increase to around $925,000 a year.

“Some of that can be covered Sunday parking revenue, some of it we may need to find other sources of revenue for, other parking revenues,” Helps said. In May, the city started charging for Sunday street parking.

The city is rolling out Go Victoria and climate leadership goals next week, Helps said, which will have associated revenue opportunities.

CHEK News