On Tuesday night, Kingston City Council will decide the future of Kingston Transit’s free bus pass for grade nine students, a pilot this year. Mayor Mark Gerretsen hopes to see the initiative continued for the 2013/14 school year and extended to include grade ten students, in partnership with local school boards.
“Providing passes to students is a great opportunity to encourage ridership as we continue to make transit service improvements, like the express bus routes coming this fall,” said Mayor Mark Gerretsen. “Through a partnership with our local school boards we can continue and expand this project to encourage young people to get on board.”
The Grade 9 Transit Pass Pilot Project was introduced for the 2012/13 school year, allowing grade nine students attending high schools in Kingston and Amherstview to ride the bus for free from September 1, 2012 to August 31, 2013. Last year, Council approved the pilot project, City Staff were asked to report back before the end of the pilot period with a recommendation on the future of the project beyond August 2013.
As the pilot comes to an end Mayor Mark Gerretsen met with City Staff and representatives from both the Limestone District School Board and the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board to discuss the project and explore opportunities to continue and extend the free bus pass program.
A cost sharing partnership between the City and the two school boards to include grade ten students was one of the options discussed; with a potential for the City and boards to absorb any costs associated with the continuation and expansion of the program. A report from City Staff outlining the pilot and a recommendation for continuing the program will come before Council on Tuesday.
“Limestone is pleased to learn the City is interested in partnering with local school boards to expand its successful pilot to more students. In addition to introducing students to the convenience of public transit, it also helps fill a gap for some students without access to reliable transportation to various recreational programs throughout the City, part-time jobs and volunteer opportunities,” says Helen Chadwick, Chair of the Limestone District School Board of Trustees. “Teaching young people to value public transit as a way to create and maintain sustainable communities is a philosophy that hopefully will stay with them as adults.”
“The Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board is pleased to support the extension of complimentary bus passes for grade 9 students beyond the initial pilot year as well as expansion of the program to include grade 10 students. The program directly benefits students attending our Kingston Catholic Secondary Schools, offering them greater flexibility within the community and access to activities and opportunities beyond the school day.” Tom Dall, Chair of the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board