VICTORIA – Free monthly bus passes are now available for all Victoria residents under the age of 18.

The passes can be picked up between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday at city hall by a youth or their guardian with proof of age and residency.

The Victoria Regional Transit Commission voted earlier this month to provide the city with 7,200 free youth passes at a cost of $729,000.

“This municipal program is the first of its kind in the province, with a goal to encourage low-carbon, affordable transportation,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps in a release Tuesday.

“Our goal of providing these free passes is to create lifelong transit riders that will lead to fewer vehicles, less traffic congestion and better health outcomes.”

Each monthly pass provides unlimited rides on BC Transit buses and handyDART services for registered handyDART customers. No replacement transit passes will be issued for lost or stolen cards, according to the city.

The cost of free transit passes is being offset by paid Sunday parking, which the city implemented in May.