Kids Ride Free, New Bus Program Unveiled

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Kids Ride Free, New Bus Program Unveiled

Montgomery County passed a new initiative allowing all students 18 and under free access to buses.

Montgomery County passed a new initiative allowing all students 18 and under free access to buses.

MCPS

Montgomery County passed a new initiative allowing all students 18 and under free access to buses.

MCPS

MCPS

Montgomery County passed a new initiative allowing all students 18 and under free access to buses.

Sagun Shrestha, Editor in Chief

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Over the summer, Montgomery County unveiled a new Kids Ride Free program which was championed by County Councilman Evan Glass during the current budget cycle.

The initiative, which went into effect July 1, is meant to provide students access to reliable public transportation without the burden of having to pay.

“What’s great about public transportation is that it works no matter what income level you come from, and that’s definitely part of what makes it so critical in MoCo,” said senior Zoe Tishaev, who testified and promoted the program on social media.

The program applies to all students 18 years and younger, who only need a Youth Cruiser SmarTrip card to board any Ride On bus and select Metrobuses. 

For more information on obtaining a Youth SmarTrip card, click here.

“I use [the Ride On buses] every day to get to my internship, to get to and from football games, and just to travel around,” said Tishaev. “I’d probably be a bit more reserved with how much I go out if public transit wasn’t free.”

Students and teachers alike agree that increased transportation options can positively impact young people’s lives by giving them access to opportunities that they might not have been able to pursue.

“What if a kid wants to get a job, but doesn’t have a car? Well now he can get some, or by riding the bus he doesn’t have to pay for it, so it’s good to have transportation. Things are far away; it’s not fun to walk far away,” said physics teacher Zachary Vaz.

Glass was inspired to create the program after talking with students who expressed concern about the limited access to transportation. He mentioned that the previous policy was limited to free access between the hours of 2 to 8 p.m.

“I immediately went back to my office and began researching how we can expand transportation options for students and that resulted in the expansion of the Kids Ride Free program so that all students are now able to take public buses for free any time they operate,” said Glass.

Glass also felt motivated by environmental incentives when it came to pushing for the program and hopes increased transit riders will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Hopefully in the future, we will not be as dependent on carbon-emitting, gas-guzzling, single-occupancy vehicles,” said Glass.

The expansion of the program cost approximately $1 million and was added to Montgomery County’s $5.8 billion budget, a decision which was unanimous in the council.

“As a member of the county council, the way I was able to push this policy was through our budget, so I spoke to all of my colleagues and told them this was a top priority of mine and they agreed with me. Now it’s part of the budget and was effective July 1st,” said Glass.

In the future, Glass hopes to expand transit opportunities for all residents in Montgomery County and is currently working on building a bus rapid transit, a method of improving reliability and capacity of buses, on U.S. Route 29 and on Maryland Route 355.

“When people start riding public transit at a younger age, they find a deeper commitment to it and become transit riders,” said Glass. “It’s that commitment to public transportation that I still have and am still working to make even stronger here in the council.”