British Columbia

Victoria students getting free public transit this fall

The City of Victoria will provide free transit passes for Victoria residents under the age of 18 starting in September.

Parking revenue will be used to provide passes to students aged under 18

Revenue from city parking will fund free transit passes for Victoria students starting this fall. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

Victoria students will be able to ride public transit for free throughout the city starting this September.

The Victoria Regional Transit Commission approved a request from the city Tuesday and will roll out the free passes in the fall.

They will be provided to students under the age of 18 who reside at a Victoria postal code. 

Mayor Lisa Helps said the idea came to her while she was campaigning for re-election last fall. She spoke with a teenage boy who pitched the idea and added it to her campaign platform.

Helps said the pass will provide youth with "the freedom to move" and help them financially as she said many older teens cover transit costs themselves.

Parking revenue covers costs

Transit commission chair Susan Brice told Gregor Craigie, host of On The Island, that the city will provide $850,000 annually to subsidize the passes.

That money will be generated by parking revenue collected by the city, which recently introduced paid parking in downtown on Sundays.

According to Brice, the passes will be provided to public school students and homeschooled youth, but the commission is open to expanding it to all youth under the age of 18 if city staff collects the data and presents a plan.

If the plan is sound and the program is expanded, the additional costs will be covered by the commission.

"It would be wonderful if every one of these youth decided to use this," said Brice.

The Capital Region District declared a climate emergency in February and Helps said increasing transit ridership will help the environment as well.

"Shifting people to modes of transit other than single-occupancy vehicles is a key part of reducing emissions," said Helps.

With files from On The Island

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