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Kids to ride for free on Metro

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Published on: Wednesday, May 25, 2011

By Nick Coletta

Montgomery County Public Schools students will soon be able to use Ride On and Metrobus services free of charge during certain hours, as the County Council last Thursday approved the reinstatement of the “Kids Ride Free” program as part of the $4.37 billion operating budget for fiscal year 2012.

Suspended in fiscal year 2011 due to budgetary constraints, the program will go back into affect on July 1. Councilwoman Nancy Navarro (D-Dist. 4) pushed for the re-adoption of the program — which allows students to use Metrobuses and the county’s Ride On bus service for free on weekdays between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. — after hearing from many students regarding the program’s importance, according a council press release.

 “For thousands of students who don’t have cars and aren’t eligible for MCPS transportation, bus service is essential, and many of these students have difficulty affording Metrobus and Ride On rates,” Navarro said. “Hopefully, the kids who take advantage of this program will become life-long transit users.”

The cost of funding the program, as stated in the tentatively approved fiscal 2012 budget, is $376,000, which includes $276,000 in lost Ride On revenue and $100,000 in reimbursement costs to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

The county will also continue to offer “Youth Cruiser” passes for $11 a month and $18 for the summer, according to the budget. The passes are valid for Ride On buses that operate within the county.

“I am thrilled I received the support of my colleagues for the reinstatement of Kids Ride Free,” Navarro said. “Over the past year, many young people have expressed their disappointment about our decision to cut this critical program.”

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