BRANTFORD – At this evening’s Committee of the Whole Operations and Administration meeting, Brantford City Council will consider a proposal for a three-year pilot program that would allow for all children twelve years of age and younger to ride free on Brantford Transit. Currently, children four years of age and younger are able to ride for free. The proposal is part of a process by which the City is re-examining its approach to Transit, specifically ways in which it can be made more affordable for families while inspiring the next generation of transit users.
In February 2018, Brantford City Council endorsed the Healthy Brantford Task Force 2018 Priorities and Action Plan, which identified improving outcomes for children and youth as a top community priority in 2018. This Task Force, comprised of executive leaders from across the health and social services sector, specifically highlighted the role of access to services and social connections as key determinants of health and wellness.
Community stakeholder groups have also expressed strong support for low-cost transit options. Feedback received from a variety of consultations and planning groups including the Age-Friendly Summit Series, Parker’s Project Collaborative and Healthy Kids Community Challenge Steering Committee have strongly signaled that low-cost transit options could significantly improve health and wellness outcomes for Brantford residents.
A 2017 research project identified access to services as one of the top ten community challenges experienced by children and youth. The Healthy Kids Community Challenge Steering Committee identified accessible transportation as a key barrier for children to participate in recreational and cultural activities. In 2015, and again earlier this month, the popular program provided free public transportation during the Healthy Kids Passport Challenge and demonstrated that children and young families will increase their access to recreation if low-cost transit options are available.
“This is a very important program that we anticipate will make a huge difference for families in our community,” said Josephine Cupoli-Atanas, the City’s General Manager, Health & Human Services. “We know that access to activities, services and recreation improves people’s overall well-being, so anything we can do to make it easier and more affordable for families to get connected to experiences and opportunities will enrich their lives now and into the future.”
The proposed Kids Ride Free pilot program and efforts to increase the uptake of the Accessibility Pass are intended to serve as a direct policy response to this identified community need, and supports several objectives of the City’s Shaping Our Future: Community Strategic Plan 2014 to 2018. Other Transit Service improvements launching in September include extending half hour service Monday to Friday from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and providing Sunday service from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.