British Columbia

New Westminster councillor proposes free transit for children and teens

New Westminster Coun. Patrick Johnstone suggests TransLink consider eliminating fares for children and teens to encourage them to become frequent transit users as adults.

Patrick Johnstone hopes that free fares for youth will encourage them to ride public transit as adults

Providing free transit to youth could encourage them to be regular users as adults and increase revenue down the road for TransLink, suggests New Westminster councillor Patrick Johnstone. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Allowing children and teens to ride public transit could encourage them to become transit users as adults, and potentially increase revenue for TransLink, according to New Westminster Coun. Patrick Johnstone.

Currently, youth under five can use public transit for free.

On Wednesday, Johnstone explained why he wants the transit authority to extend that free fare to teenaged transit riders to CBC's On the Coast host Stephen Quinn.

"Free rides until teens finish high school could make a really big difference," said Johnstone.

He believes that if using transit is normalized for youth, they will be more likely to rely on it as adults.

"I think the U-Pass example proves that students who used it during university and discovered the ease of transit use it when they join the workforce," he said. 

Single-ride fares are scheduled to increase next month.

In a statement, Translink said it currently is not looking at any specific changes, but that finding ways to encourage more children and youth to get into the habit of taking transit is important.

Johnstone hopes TransLink will take his idea into consideration when they revisit reviewing transit fares in the fall. 

With files from On The Coast

To hear the complete audio click on the file labelled New Westminster councillor proposes extending age kids ride free on transit.