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Penticton first in B.C. to offer free transit to riders 24 and under

New project serves as among the city’s new safety initiatives
Penticton and BC Transit are offering free transit for people aged 24 and under. (Photo- City of Penticton)

A safety-based pilot project will see Penticton do something no other B.C. community has done before.

The South Okanagan city became the province’s first municipality on Thursday, March 14, to offer free access to BC Transit services for youth aged 24 and under.

“This pilot project will help break down barriers for youth to access services, socialize and be a more active part of the community,” said Julie Czeck, the city’s newly-appointed director of safety and partnerships.

The city’s announcement comes as BC Transit introduces Umo in Penticton, which allows users to pay for their rides through a mobile app or reloadable card.

Youth aged 13 to 24 can register for the pilot program at five city spots, with passes valid until Dec. 31:

• City Hall

• Penticton Library

• Community Centre

• Foundry Penticton

• Ooknakane Friendship Centre

Youth aged 12 and under also have access to free transit.

“I have a hard time accessing services without a transit pass, so being able to use the bus for free means the world to me,” said one Penticton youth, who wished to remain anonymous. “Instead of having to work on the weekends to pay for my bus pass, I can now use the bus to access services, visit family or even go to the local pool with friends.”

The project’s launch was aided by a three-year grant from the federal government’s Building Safer Communities. Such funds were also used to kickstart three other local safety programs, including the YMCA Alternative Suspension (school-based support) and Youth Crime Prevention Peer (peer-based support).

“This is another important step towards building a safer community by reaching out, hearing what the needs are and finding ways to meet them,” said Czeck. “We’re excited to offer this pilot program with our partners and hope it can make a difference in the lives of youth.”

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About the Author: Logan Lockhart

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