BC Transit passes are available for free to Victoria residents aged 18 and under. (Black Press Media file photo)

BC Transit passes are available for free to Victoria residents aged 18 and under. (Black Press Media file photo)

City of Victoria paying for over 4,000 unused youth transit passes per month

Ridership is steadily increasing, but more uptake required

The uptake for free bus passes for youth is steadily rising in Victoria, with 2,450 passes collected for March so far. The passes became active in December when 2,130 were collected. Each month, however, the City is purchasing rights to 7,200 youth passes at a discounted rate of $11.25 per pass per month from BC Transit, coming to a total cost of $81,000 per month.

The number 7,200 came from the total number of youth in the city, explained Coun. Sharmarke Dubow, who also sits on the Victoria Regional Transit Commission (VRTC). The aim is to get a pass to every youth resident.

“This was the most cost-effective option,” he said. “The other option was to pay $45 per pass, just like anyone can do at a local store.”

While the uptake has slowly increased, there are still 4,750 passes remaining unclaimed every month.

ALSO READ: Victoria councillors advocate once again for free youth transit passes regionally

This, Dubow said, will likely have a steady uptake, with a boost coming in the fall.

“We expect participation rates will jump in the new school year, because we’re trying to incorporate them into student ID cards,” Dubow said. “We’re also considering options for those not enrolled in school.”

Dubow added that presently the only way youth can pick up passes is at City Hall.

“This may create barriers, which is maybe why numbers are lower.”

The youth passes are part of a city-wide pilot project encouraging youth to take sustainable transporation, with costs covered by Sunday street parking fees implemented in May 2019.

They are only available to youth who reside in Victoria city limits. This means that even if a student who lives outside of the city’s borders attends a Victoria school they are not eligible for a pass.

This was an issue Dubow and Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, who also sits on the VRTC, tried to approach in a recent VRTC meeting when a proposition was forwarded to study the costs of a region-wide free youth transit pass.

READ MORE: Motion for Greater Victoria fare-free youth transit defeated

The motion failed in a 4-4 tie vote, with Dubow, Helps, Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch and North Saanich Mayor Geoff Orr supporting the motion, and Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes, Colwood Mayor Rob Martin, Sooke Mayor Maja Tait and commission chair Susan Brice voting against it. This was the second time the same question was met with a tie vote, the first being in August 2019.

“It was unfortunate because we just wanted to look into it and then have answers, so we didn’t give ourselves the opportunity to look,” Dubow said.

Some Oak Bay residents are pushing for a similar plan, however. In their ongoing discussions, the Oak Bay Climate Action Working Group has considered looking into making youth bus passes free, similar to what Victoria is doing. The working group even reached out to consider the costs, and inquired into purchasing any leftover passes from the City. However, the group is still in its deliberation stages for its final recommendations to Oak Bay council.

As for now, the city will continue to pay for its entire youth population to ride the bus despite actual ridership.

– with files from Travis Paterson

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook, send a Tweet to @NicoleCrescenzi
and follow us on Instagram

BC TransitTransportation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

SD62 bus driver Kerry Zado said it’s common to see drivers lose their patience and pass by his bus while he’s picking up students during the morning commute. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
School bus driver laments motorists who pass while red lights are flashing

All buses in Sooke School District outfitted with stop sign cameras

Nearly 2000 BC Hydro customers in East Sooke lost power around 1 p.m. on Jan. 20. (BC Hydro)
UPDATE: Power restored to nearly 2000 East Sooke residents after blasting

Blasting caused power pole to move and faulted the circuit Wednesday

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

Victoria police are seeking home surveillance video and witnesses following a prowling incident in Esquimalt Jan. 20. (Black Press Media file photo)
Esquimalt prowler removes air conditioner, peers into person’s home

VicPD is seeking video footage, witnesses following Jan. 20 incident

The Victoria Fire Department extinguished a 15 foot tent fire in the 500-block of Ellice Street Jan. 19. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Victoria police investigating after 15-foot flames engulf tent

Flames damage nearby business in 500-block of Ellice Street

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Nanaimo RCMP are seeking the public’s help after a man allegedly assaulted a clerk at James General Store on Victoria Road on Jan. 18. (Submitted photo)
Suspect screams at customer then assaults store clerk in Nanaimo

RCMP asking for information about Jan. 18 incident at James General Store

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Two Nanaimo care-home residents have died during COVID-19 outbreak

Death reported Monday was the second related to Chartwell Malaspina outbreak, says Island Health

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Vancouver Island residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

Seven streets in downtown Duncan, including Station Street, will soon have new native names added to their signage. (Submitted graphic)
New Duncan street signs will be in English and Hul’q’umi’num

Seven streets to get additional names in First Nations language

Most Read