The Limestone District School Board has helped the Federation of Canadian Municipalities develop a step-by-step guide for building a partnership between your municipality and school boards, engaging stakeholders and implementing a student transit pass program.

The guide shares the story and lessons learned from the partnership between the City of Kingston and the Limestone District School Board Transit High School Bus Pass Program, which won a 2018 FCM Sustainable Communities Award.

The City of Kingston and the school board initiated the Kingston Transit Promotion and Orientation Project with Grade 9 students in 2012. The program takes Grade 9 students on a chartered Kingston Transit bus trip so they can learn about public transportation and its environmental and economic benefits.

“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,” says Dan Hendry, LDSB’s Sustainable Initiatives Coordinator, who runs the program.

Based on the success of the initial pilot and increased ridership, the City of Kingston now offers free transit passes to all high school students, thanks in part to a subsidy from the school board, to further encourage them to use the bus. Kingston Transit’s ridership has increased 70 per cent since 2012 – the highest rate of growth of any public transportation system in Canada.

The guide provides users with information and tools on how to: engage stakeholders, form strong partnerships and build your tea; design a program to fit your community; implement the program through a coordinated effort by schools and the transit authority; measure and report results; and share your story with others.

This guidebook is designed for school district staff and school board commissioners, municipal staff, including transit authority personnel, transit planners, sustainability coordinators, as well as municipal elected officials who want to take action to increase transit use in their community.