Children 12 and under will soon ride for free on public transit in B.C.
VICTORIA – Starting Sept. 1, children aged 12 and under will be able to “Get on Board” any BC Transit or TransLink service free of charge as part of the provincial government’s commitment to efficient, reliable, and affordable transit for families.
“Free transit for children 12 and under makes life more affordable for families,” Premier John Horgan said. “Taking public transit is a great choice. It offers a cleaner, low-carbon way of getting around that works for people, communities and the environment. The ‘Get on Board’ program will also encourage a new generation of transit riders."
This new program is designed to make public transit more affordable for families. For example, a family that buys their child a $57.30 monthly TransLink pass for a year would save over $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. Families who typically buy fares or monthly bus passes for children in their household aged 12 and under will no long need to do so.
“We are excited to launch a program that will benefit parents and caregivers and make life more affordable for families across B.C.,” said Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Rob Fleming. “As we rebuild transit systems and ridership after the pandemic, this new program will encourage people to get onboard, with the potential to save families hundreds of dollars every year.”
It’s estimated that approximately 370,000 children aged 12 and under across BC will be eligible to ride for free when the program is launched. This also supports sustainable and active transportation options for children and families in all regions of the province.
“This initiative will create lifelong transit riders, build better, more inclusive and sustainable communities and moves us all further along the pathway to cleaner and stronger British Columbia,” said Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and Minister Responsible for TransLink George Heyman. “More people choosing public transit means fewer vehicles on the road, reduced traffic congestion and cleaner air for everyone.”
To help build awareness for the upcoming launch of this program, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has released an official logo featuring the slogan “Get on Board – Kids 12 and Under Ride Free.” Both TransLink and BC Transit will be incorporating the provincial “Get on Board – Kids 12 and Under Ride Free” branding into their marketing materials to raise awareness as the program moves forward.
Depending on the mode of public transit and service provider (TransLink or BC Transit), there are slight differences in the program’s initial rollout.
Children aged six to 12 will be able to ride buses and handyDART for free unaccompanied, without requiring a fare product or identification.
BC Transit is requiring children aged five and under to be accompanied by a person 12 years or old
Children aged 12 and under will be able to ride buses free of charge anywhere in the TransLink service area without requiring a transit pass, identification or an accompanying fare paying customer.
For TransLink fare gated services such as Skytrain, SeaBus, and the West Coast Express, accompaniment by a fare-paying customer will be required to tap children aged 12 and under and riding free of charge through the fare gates, up to a maximum of four children.
Children 12 and under will continue to be able to access the gated systems by themselves with the purchase of a fare to tap through the gates.
Children 12 and under who are registered HandyDART customers or children who are accompanying a registered HandyDART customer will be able to travel for free on HandyDART without requiring a fare product or identification.
Starting September 1, children under 12 years old may apply to register as a HandyDART customer. To be eligible to register for HandyDART, children must be unable to take conventional transit due to a disability.
Similar to today, children on HandyDART must be accompanied by an adult.
Erinn Pinkerton, President and CEO for BC Transit:
“Providing safe, reliable and affordable public transportation is our top priority, and we support this program to help families get around more affordably. This is a great opportunity to grow young ridership, create life-long transit users and further reduce congestion on our roads.”
Kevin Quinn, CEO for TransLink:
“TransLink is pleased to partner with the B.C. Government to extend free transit to kids age 12 and under on all modes. It is my hope that by making public transit more affordable, this program will encourage families to take transit more frequently, give children the opportunity to see public transit as a comfortable, reliable way to get around, and serve as an important part of our efforts to reduce carbon emissions.”