NANAIMO – Two Nanaimo city councillors, Don Bonner and Tyler Brown, say they want youth who use transit in the Harbour City to ride for free.

While riding the bus Wednesday morning, Coun. Don Bonner noticed the bus was full of Nanaimo District Secondary School students and posted about it on social media.

In a tweet, Bonner states: “Bus is full of NDSS students who have to pay to go to school. Time to make riding the bus free for youth under 19.”

Brown will be forwarding a motion at the next Regional District of Nanaimo board meeting December 10th to explore a transit model that has become successful in the city of Kingston Ontario.

“They did a fully subsidized fair pass plus a robust education program for those in high school,” says Brown.

Kingston's transit program has seen massive gains in ridership and have kept those gains once students have completed high school.

“If we encourage students to take the bus and they become used to the idea,” says Bonner. “As they grow older they’ll continue taking the bus.”

Currently, school bus service is only available to 1,390 students in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District though there are more than 14,000 students enrolled. The district says bus service is provided to students outside the walking area and is mainly geared towards serving elementary school kids.

According to BC Transit, it cost students in kindergarten to Grade 12 approximately $40 a month to use public transit.

The Regional District of Nanaimo Transit Committee will be looking at fare rates in 2020 and free fares for high school will be discussed. 

In Victoria, students aged 12 to 19 will be able to ride public transit for free starting in December.