The program, a partnership between Kingston Transit and the Limestone District School Board, won a Sustainable Communities Award for Transportation from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
The program involves taking Grade 9 students on a chartered bus trip so they can learn about public transportation and its environmental and economic benefits.
“Building a transit system that people in our community want to, and like, using is one of our top priorities in Kingston,” Mayor Bryan Paterson said in a news release. “Getting our young people interested in public transit, how it can create independence for them, has been amazing to see.”
After the success of the initial pilot and increased ridership, the city now offers school board-subsidized transit passes to all high school students.
“The transit pass and orientation program allows our students to exercise independence and responsibility in addition to increased access to recreational programs, volunteer opportunities, jobs or school programs,” the board’s director of education, Debra Rantz, said.
“The main objective of this project has been to build confidence through knowledge and experience so that if students feel comfortable on the bus, understand the online route-planning tools, and have a pass in their hand, they will be more apt to use the bus now and in the future,” Dan Hendry, the board’s sustainable initiatives co-ordinator who oversees the program, said.
Kingston Transit’s ridership has increased 70 per cent since 2012 and surpassed the six million annual riders earlier this year. It is the highest rate of growth of any public transportation system in Canada.
— The Whig-Standard