New West schools on board with campaign pushing free transit for youths

The New Westminster school district is the latest public entity to sign onto a campaign calling for TransLink to make transit free to youths aged 0-18.

The school board voted to endorse the #AllOnBoard campaign with effectively no discussion recently, making it one of a handful of school boards and city halls to endorse the campaign.

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Others who have endorsed #AllOnBoard include the City of New West; Vancouver City Hall, school board and parks board; the Richmond school board; the City of Port Moody and the City of Burnaby.

The #AllOnBoard campaign calls for free transit for those aged 0-18 and for the cost of monthly passes to be on a sliding scale based on family income.

More immediately, the campaign calls for an end to pursuing fare evasion tickets for youths.

Those proposals are all being considered by TransLink’s Mayors’ Council, but none of #AllOnBoard’s suggestions has been implemented.

“Lack of affordable transportation is one of the most significant barriers to social inclusion, school attendance and success and labour market inclusion for low-income adults and youth,” reads a motion from Trustee Danielle Connelly.

Connelly wrote in her motion that free transit for youths and a sliding scale for monthly passes for adults could help the goal of reducing poverty in the province and increasing access to work and education.

“Many cities and municipalities across Canada and the U.S. and beyond that offer affordability measures,” Connelly’s motion reads.

“Parents should not have to choose between groceries or a bus pass for their kids or themselves. Parent (involvement) is key to healthy schools and communities, and lack of affordable transportation should not be a barrier to this.”

The school board voted in favour of the motion, which calls for the Mayors’ Council to implement #AllOnBoard’s suggestions and for TransLink to adopt a poverty reduction and equity mandate.

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