London city hall: Teen price for bus pass seen as habit forming

There could be many more London teens riding the bus next year. On Monday, city politicians jumped on board a plan to offer 13 to 17-year-old riders a discounted bus pass.

Right now teens must pay $81, the full adult price, for a monthly pass -writes

“That’s not fair; it’s not right,” Coun. Phil Squire said. Squire, also a member of the London Transit Commission (LTC) board, has been pushing for a trial for youth bus passes for months.

Politicians opted to support a two-year pilot project using a bulk-buying system. Under that model, the city would buy monthly passes from the LTC at a discount and re-sell them to teens for $52. That’s the same reduced rate that will be available to low-income adults starting in 2018.

The cash for the pilot will come from the operating budget surplus and a reserve fund, if needed. It won’t impact the property tax hike. The pilot could cost the city anywhere from $750,000 to more than $5 million.

That depends on three things: how many passes the city buys, what price is negotiated with the LTC, and how many teens take advantage of the $52 deal.

The uptake is hard to predict, because the LTC doesn’t track how many young people are riding the bus right now. Teens can pay using tickets, cash, or a regular monthly pass, so there’s no way to know how many of those sales account for young riders.

More than 20,000 people between the ages of 13 and 17 live in London, according to Statistics Canada data.

Deputy Mayor Paul Hubert said that’s the prime age group to take advantage of the city’s future rapid transit system.

“We have to train them and make them accustomed to using our public transit system,” he said.

It might even spark a broader shift toward using public transit across the city, one politician said.

“I think the most important aspect of this is the school boards. We need to get them on board. We need to shift our in-city yellow (school) buses to transit,” Coun. Virginia Ridley said.

Because teens are scattered around the city, the pilot doesn’t include a plan to put extra buses on the roads.

That means new teen riders could bring in revenue for the LTC without driving up costs.

“I want to maximize the transit ridership,” said Coun. Jesse Helmer, who also sits on the LTC board. He added that subsidized passes give young people greater independence.

“It’s a lot more convenient than having to get your parents to drive you around.”

Read more news of London on our site.

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