The youth transit pass is ready to go.
The subsidized bus pass for teens 13 to 17 officially launched Saturday. The discounted pass is a part of a two-year pilot project discussed last fall during budget deliberations.
Monthly passes will be sold for $52, a $29 savings from the $81 paid by adult LTC riders.
The discounted pass is a partnership with the City of London, said LTC general manager Kelly Paleczny.
“We’re looking at seeing if we can increase ridership and cover the costs associated with increased ridership,” she said.
As of last Wednesday, 140 teens had purchased the pass. Paleczny expects sales to continue and said the busiest days for pass purchases is the last two days of a month, and the first two days of a month.
“With the long weekend, and kids not going back until Tuesday, the sales might lag into next week,” she said.
Coun. Phil Squire said the youth transit pass numbers needs to grow. He hopes to see the number grow to over 500 passes.
“It might take a little time, but I hope it will get there,” he said. “The purpose of the pilot project is to see an uptake in users.”
The city and the LTC would share the cost of the discounted pass, with the city’s share declining depending on the number of passes sold.
If 500 or fewer teen passes are sold, the city would pay the LTC $20.90 for each monthly pass, an annual cost of up to $125,400. If 2,000 or more teens buy the cheaper pass, the city’s share dwindles to $8.75 each.
The number of teens expected to buy discounted passes is hard to predict. The LTC doesn’t track the proportion of young people in the 23-million passengers it carries a year. Teens can pay using tickets, cash or a regular monthly pass.
“Honestly we didn’t know what to expect, given there was no pass category for youth in the past and we didn’t know how many were purchasing passes,” said Paleczny. “It’s almost more of a wait and see what the impacts are.”
Paleczny said it’s important to get kids comfortable using transit so the LTC can build future transit riders.
“When they start looking for jobs, we’ll have a generation that’s grown accustomed to using transit,” she said.
To make transit viable, Squire said people have to use the transit system.
“Ridership is important, but secondly we have to generate money for transit,” he said. “Operating costs are going up, and if revenue doesn’t go up with it, there’s going to be some challenges.”
The discounted teen pass is one of three subsidized transportation projects for which city councillors agreed in April to set aside $5 million from the $6.9 million surplus from the city’s 2017 operating budget. The other two programs are free rides for kids 12 and under and a $52 bus pass for low-income adults.
Statistics Canada says more than 20,000 people between the ages of 13 and 17 live in London.
The passes can be purchased at either LTC location or at any one of the city locations. Once a Smart Card has been purchased, teens can load future monthly youth transit passes online at londontransit.ca.