Kids who 'Get On Board' with B.C. Transit will ride for free | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kids who 'Get On Board' with B.C. Transit will ride for free

Beginning on Sept. 1, 2021, British Columbians under 12 can use BC Transit at no cost.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/BC Transit
August 12, 2021 - 6:00 AM

The world is about to become a bit smaller for small British Columbians.

Starting on Sept. 1 everyone under 12 will be able to use BC Transit anywhere in the province for free, thanks to the Get On Board program.

“This is all about introducing young people to the bus, the drivers – and it’s a great way to get around without a car,” said BC Transit spokesperson Jamie Weiss.

Get On Board is being sponsored by the Government of British Columbia as a way to make life more affordable, Weiss said, and to get young riders involved, a demographic that may not have had the opportunity to get on board before.

The initiative is scheduled to run indefinitely.

“There is no end date in sight for this program,” he said.

Children between ages six and 12 will be able to ride transit on their own, while children under five will need to be accompanied by somebody over 12.

For approximately 370,000 children from the province who will be eligible for the free fares, Get On Board will be handy if mom and dad aren’t able to bring you to a friends or a swimming pool, he said.

“We advise parents are ready to make sure their kids are ready to take public transit before they just hop on a bus," Weiss said.

But parents of young riders can rest assured that safety is paramount within the public transit system.

“We really want to make sure people understand the bus is a safe place and the bus driver is a great advocate and ambassador."

For children who are unsure about which stop to get off at, or if they feel uncomfortable in any way – the bus driver is the go-to person.

"They’re the eyes and ears of the community, they don’t just drive people from A to B," Weiss said.

BC Transit noticed a sharp decline in use when COVID became an issue in March 2020, and while numbers have steadily been rising they are expecting Get On Board will definitely help with ridership recovery.

BC Transit still recommends wearing face masks, even while waiting at bus stops.

Families that are used to purchasing a $35 monthly pass for children to ride BC Transit will save $420 per child each year.

Children in the province typically don’t rely on public transit to get to school, however Weiss said in no way will the Get On Board program replace the school bus program, but it can definitely work in concert with that school bus program.

He reminds riders that BC Transit buses have bike racks on the front, and it can be handy to use buses as part of a larger trip involving other modes of transportation.

Although the initiative only applies to British Columbians under 12, Weiss hopes it will encourage more families to “utilize public transit a little more and get out of their cars.”

Weiss, who grew up in Campbell River, can fondly remember riding the bus as a youngster with his friends to the arcade and shopping centres.

“Taking the bus expands your horizons, especially as a kid.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Dan Walton or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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