Halifax Transit announced on Thursday it is permanently scrapping transit fees for children under the age of 12.
Regional council voted on the matter on Wednesday, after the 2019 pilot project for the fee change showed a drastic increase in ridership of those 12 and younger.
According to the staff report discussed in Wednesday council, young children took 500 more trips per day since September 2019 when the program started. Before the pilot, only children under four could ride the bus for free.
One survey in the report showed that 60 per cent of respondents, parents with young children, indicated their families used public transit more often because of the free fare program.
The report said 82 per cent of all respondents agreed with the idea of making the program permanent.
“Many positive comments were received regarding the impact on the lives of respondents, in terms of financial benefit, increased mobility options, and freedom to take unplanned trips,” the report read.
“Many positive comments were received about the potential for a cultural shift, and reducing negative stigmas around public transportation.”
The estimated loss of revenue for this program, measured between October 2019 and January 2020, was about $500,000 annually. The city initially estimated a loss of $600,000.
In addition to making this program now permanent under the User Charges By-law, regional council has also requested a report on the potential to offer discount bulk purchases of transit fares. These have previously been requested by non-profits and event organizers.