Young people can now ride BC Transit for free in Penticton.

The city launched a pilot program today, March 14, to provide free transit for youth, according to a City of Penticton press release.

“This is a project that has been developed by our social development department in conjunction with our partners and youth in the community who have identified the lack of mobility as a challenge for youth,” the city’s director of safety and partnerships Julie Czeck said in the release.

“This pilot project will help break down barriers for youth to access services, to socialize and be a more active part of the community.”

BC Transit has also launched Umo in Penticton, a service which allows riders to pay for the bus through an app or reloadable card.

Now youth between 13 and 24 years old can ride for free as long as they register at one of these five locations: Ooknakane Friendship Centre, Foundry Penticton, Penticton Public Library, Penticton Community Centre and Penticton City Hall.

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“Being able to use the bus for free means the world to me. Instead of having to work on the weekends to pay for my bus pass, I can now use the bus to access services, visit family or even go to the local pool with friends,” a young person anonymously told the city.

The free pass through Umo is restricted to Penticton routes.

“This is another important step towards building a safer community by reaching out, hearing what the needs are and finding ways to meet them,” Czeck said.

“We’re excited to offer this pilot program with our partners and hope it can make a difference in the lives of youth.”

The pilot program is being funded through a three-year grant through the federal government’s Building Safer Communities. The grant is funding several other programs including the Kwu Xast Program through the Ooknakane Friendship Centre and Youth Crime Prevention Peer through Foundry Penticton.

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