March 29, 2017 7:35 am
Updated: March 29, 2017 10:31 am

London teens may get the green light for free bus fare

AM980 London
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London teens may be next in line for free transit passes, following discussions last year that allowed kids 12 and under to ride for free.

The city’s Community and Protective Services Committee voted unanimously Tuesday in favour of a motion looking into free bus fare for teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18.

The city introduced free bus rides for children between five and 12 during budget talks last fall. The free rides came into effect in January.

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Ward 6 Coun. Phil Squire asked city staff to look into free rides for teens to help ease the financial burden of bus tickets on families and encourage the younger generation to use transit throughout their lives.

“The worst thing that I think we could do right now is start debating numbers and possibilities and whether it can ultimately succeed,” said Squire. “I want to be a real optimist on this one and I’m pretty determined on this one.”

The decision comes in the midst of heated discussion over the city’s proposed $560-million bus rapid transit plan. Squire said the city needs to do more to ensure a smooth transition into the future.

“The one thing that’s clear in all of our discussions is that we got to grow our ridership if we are going to make rapid transit successful or even our current system successful,” he reiterated. “We have got to grow transit.”

Squire added that schools are on board to look at a subsidy for students.

However, Ward 4 Coun. Jesse Helmer pointed toward the uncertain timeline of a high school student, questioning whether free passes should be based on age or school enrollment.

“Some people get into high school much younger than you would expect and some leave a lot earlier than you would expect,” he said.

City staff are set to investigate the possibility of giving teens the green light on free fare. However, it’s not known when the staff report might be delivered.

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