October 11, 2018 3:30 pm

St. Boniface councillor proposes free bus fare for kids under 12

City councillor Matt Allard is pushing for free transit for kids under 12.

Matt Allard / Facebook

St. Boniface councillor Matt Allard is calling for changes to Winnipeg Transit that would see children under 12 ride for free.

The current Transit policy lets children under 6 ride free, but older children have to pay a reduced fare of $1.82 via e-pass, or $2.45 cash.

Allard told 680 CJOB Thursday that isn’t workable for families with older children, especially as Manitoba’s laws state that children can’t be left unsupervised until they’re 12.

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This means many parents – who would have to accompany their under-12s on the bus – are opting out of transit entirely.

“What’s happening is many parents are choosing not to take the bus, because in many cases, it makes more sense to pay a $12 cab fare or drive than to take transit,” said Allard.

The reduced rate applies for youth up to and including high school students. The full fare, applicable to post-secondary students and adults is $2.60 e-pass, or $2.95 cash.

READ MORE: Winnipeg Transit adds more inspectors to improve passenger safety

“The roads aren’t getting any bigger, and we’re going to be a million people by 2035, so we need to find ways to get cars off the road and people riding transit.”

Allard, who is running for re-election later this month, said his proposal is unlikely to have a negative impact on Winnipeg Transit fares. He said he recently took the bus with his three-year-old son and saw no other children (of any age) on board.

If parents are already choosing not to take their kids on the bus, he said, changing the age for free bus fare wouldn’t result in a loss for Transit.

“In terms of gained fares, for those parents (now) choosing to either drive or pay a $12 cab fare, you’ve got a new fare that wasn’t there,” he said.

“Every time somebody chooses to take the bus, that’s one less car stuck at Portage and Main waiting to get across. I think any policy we can support to get people out of their cars and into the bus, there’s going to be less road congestion for drivers and it’s going to be the right policy for the City of Winnipeg.”

READ MORE: Winnipeg transit union calls for low income bus pass

Allard’s proposal comes at the same time as a call from Winnipeg’s transit union in support of a low-income bus pass program.

WATCH: Winnipeg transit users rally against proposed fare hike

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