Re-Thinking Who Gets a Free Bus Pass in Kingston

Limestone District School Board, Algonquin & Lakeshore Catholic District School Board, Kingston, OntarioIn 2012 the City of Kingston, partnered with our local school boards, introduced a program that gives high school students a free bus pass to use during the school year. The program is the only one in Canada and has seen bus rides among students climb to 575,000 rides just this past school year alone. That, as well as free rides for anyone under 14, is giving kids and parents more freedom to get where they need to be. In addition to this, students at Queen’s and St. Lawrence also have access to unlimited bus rides through the Bus-It program (a fee is included in their tuition that is less than the cost of a pass for one month). This pretty much covers anyone up to age 18 and a good number of people between 18 and 25. But what about those who don’t attend the college or university? Or, beyond that, people in their mid to late twenties?

Getting on your feet once you’ve left home is challenging and expensive. Many people can’t afford a car that early in life and even a bicycle can be pricey and not overly convenient. Programs such as the Kingston Symphony’s Classically Hip and The Grand Theatre’s IMPACT offer discounted tickets to anyone below 35 and 30, respectively. In fact, Kingston Transit has a loyalty program called PassPERKS that allows pass holders to get discounts at a growing list of local stores – but you still need to buy the pass to take advantage. These are just a few local examples and a quick google search will show that many organizations have similar programs offered to people in their 20s and 30s. Considering that, this week we’re wondering:

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Obviously, while on our mission to become Canada’s most sustainable city, encouraging more people to take the bus is essential, and the programs in place are an excellent start, but perhaps we should take things a step further. What do you think? Is it time to offer free transit passes to young people whether they are in school or not? Or maybe it’s a step too far. Perhaps handing out more free passes is a slippery slope that could then extend to even more people in the community. Drop off your comments below.

Thanks to Wikimedia Commons for today’s photo.

Danielle Lennon

Danielle Lennon is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. She was the Editor, Community Event Coordinator and Contributor at-large (2008-2018). She is otherwise employed as a section violinist with the Kingston Symphony, violin teacher, studio musician and cat lover. Learn more about Danielle...

2 thoughts on “Re-Thinking Who Gets a Free Bus Pass in Kingston

  • With free bus service for school students during the school year, that loss of money has to be made up elsewhere in increases to regular bus prices. I am disabled and to get a discount I have to purchase a monthly pass, but I don’t go out enough to justify the discount cost of a monthly pass. Instead I pay for an adult on a reloadable card to be able to get to my doctor’s and hospital appointments downtown. Price increases are hard on those with a fixed income.

  • We pay enough taxes so I think free bus passes for kids up to 14 is great!

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