Vancouver city council to vote on backing free transit for youth, discounts for low-income riders

Vancouver city council will vote Tuesday on whether to throw its support behind a campaign for free transit for minors.

The All On Board campaign is also calling for reduced transit fares on a sliding scale for low-income riders.

The motion, proposed by COPE Coun. Jean Swanson, argues that inability to afford public transit is destroying some low-income people’s credit ratings.

“Those living below the poverty line have brought forward that they cannot afford to pay the $173 fines received individually or the resulting accrued ‘TransLink debt’ from many unpaid fines,” states the motion.

If approved, the motion would see the City of Vancouver pen a letter to the TransLink Mayors’ Council as well as TransLink’s board of directors and the Ministries of Municipal Affairs and Housing and Social Development calling for TransLink and the province to develop a funding model to pay for the initiative.

It also calls for a second letter to the mayors’ council asking TransLink to develop a poverty reduction mandate, to stop ticketing minors for fare evasion and to de-link ICBC from fare evasion.

The All On Board campaign also hopes to see adults assigned community service instead of fines for fare evasion.

If approved, the City of Vancouver would forward the resolution to this year’s Lower Mainland Government Association convention and the Union of BC Municipalities convention.

Vancouver would not be the first Lower Mainland municipality to endorse the campaign.

In early December, city councils in both New Westminster and Port Moody approved motions supporting All On Board.

In 2017, the City of Calgary implemented a sliding-scale transit fare program for low-income people that was wildly popular.

Edmonton also offers discounted monthly bus passes for low-income people, as does Saskatoon and Halifax. Ottawa offers both discounted monthly passes and single fares for eligible adults.

Winnipeg also approved a new low-income bus pass in November but has yet to work out the details and implement it.

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