Public transit is now free for all children 12 and under in B.C., saving families money, increasing access to affordable transportation options and encouraging more people to use public transit.
The free transit for children 12 and under program was officially launched at the Pacific National Exhibition fairgrounds in Vancouver on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021.
“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 provide 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.”
Wednesday’s event took place against the backdrop of a newly painted TransLink bus featuring the program’s official logo, Get on Board – Kids 12 and Under Ride Free.
Under the first provincewide free transit program for kids in Canada, 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. This includes buses, SkyTrain, SeaBus and the West Coast Express.
“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.”
Anyone who typically buys fares or monthly bus passes for children 12 and under no longer needs to do so. For example, a family that buys their child a $57-per-month TransLink pass for a year would save more than $687, while savings on a BC Transit children’s pass, at an average cost of $35 per month, would add up to $420 a year.
It is estimated that approximately 370,000 children aged 12 and under throughout B.C. are eligible to ride public transit free of charge. The program also supports active transportation options for children and families, as 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, and determining if their children may take transit unaccompanied.
There are slight differences in the program’s initial rollout depending on the mode of public transit and service provider (TransLink or BC Transit). Sept. 1 marks Phase 1 of the program, where children 12 and under can access transit for free. In Phase 2, a dedicated product for children 12 and under riding on transit will be made available.