The B.C. government has officially launched free transit for all children 12 and under across the province in an effort to increase access to affordable transportation.
The program, which has been in the works for the last several months, officially launched on Wednesday, Sept. 1 at the Pacific National Exhibition fairgrounds in Vancouver.
The B.C. government says this new initiative marks the first province-wide free transit program for kids in Canada.
As part of the initiative, children aged 12 and under in B.C. can now “Get on Board” any BC Transit or TransLink service free of charge anywhere in the province.
“I’m thrilled to be here to celebrate the start of free transit for children 12 and under,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “This is a landmark achievement for free public transit in this province and an important part of our government’s commitment to providing safe, reliable and affordable public transit for B.C. families. We promised to introduce free transit for children 12 and under, and today we’re fulfilling that commitment.”
Effective immediately, anyone who typically buys fares or monthly bus passes for children 12 and under no longer needs to do so.
“By providing free public transit for children, we’re building the ridership of the future today, while making life more affordable for working families,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change. “As our population increases, the need for climate-friendly forms of transportation continues to grow. Public transit reduces road congestion, supports our economy and offers a cleaner, low-carbon way of getting around that works for people and builds healthy communities.”
According to the B.C. government, there are approximately 370,000 children aged 12 and under throughout the province that are eligible to ride public transit free of charge as of Wednesday.
The government also points to additional benefits that the program creates including supporting active transportation, with the idea that transit users are more likely to walk or cycle to the nearest bus stop.
While travel for children 12 and under will be free, parents and guardians remain responsible for providing adequate provisions for the safety and care of their children whenever travelling on transit, including when travelling unaccompanied.
“This program will mean more kids and their families are introduced to a more sustainable and green method of travelling throughout their communities,” said Erinn Pinkerton, president and CEO, of BC Transit. “At BC Transit, we take pride in providing safe and affordable public transportation people can rely on, and the free transit for children 12 and under program aligns with that commitment. The program will help grow young ridership, create life-long transit users and further reduce congestion on our roads.”
Sept. 1 marks Phase 1 of the program, where children 12 and under can access transit for free. According to the Province, Phase 2 will see a dedicated product for children 12 and under riding on transit will be made available.
Details can be found by clicking on the links below.