One year of free transit for kids 12 and under
Fraser Valley Today's YOUR PERSPECTIVE: One year of free transit for kids 12 and under
Sep 29, 2022 | 8:38 AM
Parents have a lot on their minds these days. As we get back into the swing of the busy school year, and continue to face the effects of global inflation, many are concerned about rising costs. As a parent, I know how stressful this can be, and our government is committed to taking action. One cost that parents no longer have to worry about is public transit fares for younger kids. This month we marked the one-year anniversary of free transit for children 12 and under, in every community across B.C. In the last year, children 12 and under have taken 3 million free journeys on Translink in the Lower Mainland alone, and in the rest of the province kids 12 and under are using BC Transit more often than before the free program launched. Families that had formerly bought a monthly BC Transit pass for their kids have saved up to $420 this past year. That’s money that can go back into paying for groceries, school supplies, activities, and more.
For some families, free transit for kids has also meant parents can take fewer trips in the car driving to school, sports practice, music lessons, and other extra-curriculars. This means fewer carbon emissions in our communities, less congestion around schools during rush hour, and less money spent on gas. Another lasting benefit of the free transit program is that it is creating more lifelong transit users. When kids become confident getting around on transit at a young age, they are more likely to continue using transit as they grow up. Addressing climate change requires us to shift to more sustainable choices and increasing transit use is one way we can build more sustainable communities. We know that there is more action needed to help families with the rising cost of living. This Fall, we’ve taken a number of steps that will help families save money or put more money back in their pockets. Through the Student and Family Affordability Fund, we’re providing $60 million to help make sure that parents in every district of the province don’t have to make more sacrifices due to the rising cost of living. This funding will ensure that all students are able to access things like school meal programs, field trips, school supplies and counselling. A few weeks ago, our government introduced even more measures to offset the high cost of living for British Columbians. We are protecting renters by capping rent increases at 2% and putting money back into the pockets of families by increasing the child tax benefits from January to March. We’re also providing people with relief with a one-time increase to the Climate Action Tax Credit which will give people up to $164 for each adult and up to $41 per child this October. We’re also continuing to cut child care fees. Starting in December, families with kids in kindergarten or younger at participating child care centres will see their fees cut by up to $550 per month per child. While we celebrate the anniversary of providing free transit for kids and are proud to provide these other measures, our government will continue to look for more ways to help people in the face of global inflation.