Students 12 and under can now ride Calgary Transit for free

The new policy went into effect on Jan. 1 with funding from the city's latest four-year budget plan.  (Ose Irete/CBC - image credit)
The new policy went into effect on Jan. 1 with funding from the city's latest four-year budget plan. (Ose Irete/CBC - image credit)

Some Calgary students enjoyed a free ride to school on Monday, their first day back in class following the holiday break.

For students 12 and younger, they were able to ride city buses and CTrains for free, thanks to funding approved in the city's latest budget plan.

The new transit policy went into effect Jan. 1, but as public and Catholic students returned to the classroom this week, many more preteens might be riding transit for free.

"We are trying to encourage ridership among children," said Stephen Tauro, a spokesperson with Calgary Transit. "I think starting the habit of riding transit is really key to growing ridership in the future."

 

In an interview on the Calgary Eyeopener, Tauro explained that the policy will operate on the honour system.

While those 12 and under will board for free, teenagers between 13 and 17 will still need to pay $2.45 per one-time ticket.

Over the next few months, Calgary Transit will monitor compliance, Tauro said, perhaps instituting changes to make things easier for both riders and bus drivers.

One idea Calgary Transit might explore is an official verification card for children 12 and younger, something that exists in other cities, such as Edmonton. 

The Calgary Board of Education told CBC News that it expects the new ridership policy will have little impact on students. 

"We only have approximately 25 middle and junior high schools assigned to Calgary Transit that would have students in the age group qualifying for free transit fares," the organization said in a statement.