COPE's Jean Swanson will seek council's endorsement of campaign for free transit for minors

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      The City of Vancouver could be the next organization to call for the elimination of transit fares for people under 19 years old.

      COPE councillor Jean Swanson has prepared a notice of motion calling on her colleagues to endorse the #AllOnBoard campaign.

      In addition to no fares for children and youth, this community-based campaign also wants a sliding-scale monthly-pass system for adults, based on their income.

      Swanson's notice of motion is on the Tuesday (January 15) council agenda.

      If it passes, the city will write a letter to the TransLink board and mayors' council, as well as to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.

      This letter will ask TransLink to secure funding and create a plan for free transit for children and youths and sliding-price passes for low-income people.

      COPE councillor Jean Swanson thinks it's time TransLink started allowing kids to ride transit for free.

      In addition, Swanson's motion calls on council to approve having the city write a letter to the TransLink Mayors' Council asking it to "require TransLink adopt a poverty reduction/equity mandate".

      This would be to address the lack of affordability measures so that people who need to take public transit the most will have the means to do so.

      Last month, the #AllOnBoard campaign was endorsed by the cities of Port Moody and New Westminster.

      It's also backed by the Single Mothers' Alliance of B.C., the B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition, various labour and transportation groups, the Wilderness Committee, Fostering Change, and others.

      Antipoverty campaigner Viveca Ellis came up with the idea for #AllOnBoard.

      Meanwhile in Seattle, high-school students and low-income middle students receive free transit passes.

      Currently, people are fined $173 by TransLink for fare evasion.

      This rises by $40 if the fine is not paid within 180 days and by $60 if the fine isn't paid within a year.

      People with outstanding fines for fare evasion are not permitted to renew their driver's licence or vehicle insurance.

      The #AllOnBoard campaign wants this punitive approach overhauled.

      "We advocate for an immediate end to the fare evasion ticketing of minors, and the introduction of community service and restorative justice options for adults as an alternative to fare evasion tickets," it states on its website