B.C. public transit now free for children 12 and under

A BC Transit bus on Douglas Street in Victoria on Sept. 1, 2021. (CTV News).

The B.C. government has made public transit free for all children 12 years old and younger across the province.

The province says its “Get on Board” program will save families money and encourage more people to use public transportation.

“I’m thrilled to be here to celebrate the start of free transit for children 12 and under,” said Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Rob Fleming on Wednesday. “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.”

For families who would normally buy their children a monthly bus pass for $35, the “Get on Board” program could save a family as much as $420 a year in transit costs.

The province estimates that more than 370,000 children 12 and under are eligible to ride public transit for free across the province.

“By providing free public transit for children, we building the ridership off the future today,” said Minister of Environment and Climate change George Heyman. “As our population grows, the need for climate-friendly forms of transportation continues to grow.”

The province says the program also supports active transportation options for children because transit users are more likely to walk or cycle to the nearest bus stop.

CTV News asked parents in Victoria what they thought of the program.

“I think it’s a great opportunity and it’s a way to make habits to ride the bus,” said one parent of two children. “It saves on having to drive everywhere because that’s getting expensive and it’s nice to know you are doing your part.”

Another parent of three children called it “a great idea,” saying “getting more people using public transit (means) less cars on the road and it’s a good thing for everyone.”

Under the “Get on Board” program, children 12 and under may ride free anywhere in the province on any BC Transit or TransLink service, including SkyTrain, SeaBus and the West Coast Express.