The executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Hamilton says that the possibility of the Hamilton transit agency offering free rides to children under 12 is a “tremendous idea” that could generate more activity for young people, particularly from families that they look at their pockets.
“I think that participating in any kind of activity or sport is important for that age group,” Glenn Harkness told CHML 900 Good Morning Hamilton.
“So if we could remove that, that one transportation barrier, then I think we’re doing a good thing.”
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The council is expected to approve a one-year pilot project during a meeting on Wednesday, following a vote by the public works committee that unanimously approved going ahead with the initiative.
During last week’s session, Transit Director Maureen Cosyn Heath said the pandemic had a significant impact on the financial well-being of marginalized voters and that the pilot could help increase the decline in passenger numbers.
“So while in the past this may not have been an appropriate idea at the time, we feel now, as we move through a passenger recovery period, this is an important strategy,” Cosyn Heath told the committee.
Under the pilot, children ages six to 12 with a PRESTO card will be able to ride the HSR for free.
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The campaign is expected to affect HSR’s annual revenue in that age group, but how much has yet to be determined.
The HSR is estimated to have raised about $ 164,000 in 2019. That number was significantly lower in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Current fares for children six and older are $ 2.10 for a single ride with a $ 92.40 monthly pass.
Hamilton is one of the few municipalities in southern Ontario that doesn’t offer free rides to kids, unlike Burlington, Kingston, London, Oakville, Windsor, and Toronto, which all joined the trend years ago.
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Mountain Councilor John-Paul Danko characterized the pilot as a potential opportunity to turn riders into “a customer for life.”
Harkness is optimistic once the year is over, the city will make free youth rides permanent. He estimates that savings for a child could be between $ 20 and $ 30 per week, which a family could redirect to rent and / or purchase.
“We live in an age where everything seems to be going well,” Harkness said.
“Grocery costs have been in the news lately, rent and house prices. Yeah, if we can do something just to save them a little bit, then I think it’s a great thing. “
If ratified, the city is expected to launch the pilot this November.
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