SamTrans will launch a six-month pilot program that offers free fares to low-income students.
As part of the partnership with the San Mateo County Office of Education, the new SamTrans Youth Unlimited Pass “will be given to school districts to distribute to qualified students, giving passholders free rides on all SamTrans bus routes through June 2022, at which time a decision will be made as to whether to continue the pilot into the next school year,” the transit agency said.
All students that the California Dept. of Education classifies as Socioeconomically Disadvantaged (SED) qualify for the new pass. That includes “students that are eligible for the Free and Reduced-Price Meal program, students experiencing homelessness, foster-youth, migrant students, or students whose parents did not graduate high school,” according to SamTrans.
Students and parents benefiting from the pilot program will be surveyed in March about its effectiveness. The program aims not only to reduce transportation costs for participants, but also to attract new and more frequent riders and to understand the operation impacts of providing free fairs to low-income youth riders.
“Transit costs can present a major obstacle for struggling families,” SamTrans Board Chair Charles Stone said. “Providing free passes to kids will help support their opportunities for success and expands SamTrans’ many efforts promoting equity.”