Children 12 and under could be riding for free on buses by fall

If all goes smoothly, children 12 and younger will be riding B.C. Transit and TransLink buses and trains for free in time for their return to school in the fall, the Transportation Ministry said Wednesday.

“We are rolling out this program on both B.C. Transit and TransLink systems across all modes of transit as quickly as possible, starting in fall 2021,” the ministry said.

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More than 340,000 children in B.C. would be eligible for the program, it said. Details such as whether children will need a special pass are still being worked out.

The province says it will cover the program’s estimated cost of $26 million over three years, working with TransLink and B.C. Transit to keep tabs on estimates of foregone revenue over the course of the initiative “to see if any adjustment may be necessary.”

The current cost of a fare for children ages six to 12 in the Victoria Regional Transit System is $2.50. Bus rides are free for children ages 5 and under, a B.C. Transit representative said.

TransLink’s website says that for passengers ages five to 18, the price is $1.95 for one zone, $2.95 for two zones and $3.95 for three zones. Day and monthly passes are also available.

The ministry said in a statement that besides making it more affordable for families to travel within their communities, giving children free public transit access will “help create lifelong transit riders, building better, more inclusive and sustainable communities.”

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