Dieppe offers youth free bus rides for a year to get them in public-transit habit
Pilot starting in July aims to increase ridership
Dieppe will offer youth free public transit service for 12 months starting in July.
Residents of the city 17 years old or younger can register for a pass they can show when boarding a Codiac Transpo bus on Dieppe routes. Bus users will still have to pay if they transfer to a Moncton or Riverview route.
Dieppe council approved the pilot project Monday evening. It will begin July 2.
Luc Richard, the city's director of organizational performance, said the city wants to promote alternative modes of transportation, offer youth more choice, and get young people used to riding the bus.
"If we can instill a culture of the bus being a valid option when they're a young age, perhaps when they turn 18 they'll be a normal customer buying tickets," Richard said.
Richard said the city will track registrations to measure the success of the pilot and will also survey bus users. He said the surveys will also gather input on how to improve public transit.
The pilot only applies for Dieppe residents on bus routes within that city.
Spokespeople for Moncton and Riverview say their communities plan to monitor Dieppe's pilot project to determine whether to adopt a similar approach.
People can register for the youth pass at Dieppe City Hall starting in June. He said city representatives will also be at various community events through the summer so people can register.
Codiac Transpo previously offered free transit for high school students in July and August 2015 and to those under 18 over the same months in 2016.
Richard said ridership has increased on routes in the city. Last year, there were an estimated 280,000 trips on buses in Dieppe.
Codiac Transpo bus fare in the three communities is $2.75, while a monthly student pass costs $50. Those under five years old already can use Codiac Transpo for free.
Richard said there may be a loss in revenue from bus pass purchases, but he hopes increased ridership will offset the loss.
"We see that as an investment, not necessarily a cost," he said.