The City of Kingston applied a simple yet powerful model to transform public transit. It started with youth: give them a free pass and teach them what to do with it.
And with that, the City increased annual high school ridership from 28,000 to almost 600,000 in six years (pre-Covid numbers). Indeed, Kingston has recorded the highest proportion of people using sustainable transportation, with the highest proportion of commuters using active transportation and public transit (30.4%).
The nature and design of the Kingston Transit High School Bus Pass Program has led to many benefits:
● promoting social equity by providing all high school students with free access to public transit;
● improving quality of life for students through increased access, opportunity, choice and freedom;
● increasing affordable access to cooperative education and experiential learning;
● generating cost savings and more efficient delivery of co-op, field trips and community education programs; and
● reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, improving air quality and reducing traffic congestion.
The Youth Transit Project wants to replicate this award-winning program, and the associated benefits, across Canada by engaging the key leaders who transformed public transit in Kingston.