SamTrans, in partnership with the San Mateo County Office of Education, is launching a six-month pilot program to offer free fares to low-income students, the agency announced this week.
SamTrans is creating passes that 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.
All students that are classified as socioeconomically disadvantaged by the California Department of Education are qualified for the new SamTrans Youth Unlimited Pass, according to the SamTrans statement.
This group includes students eligible for the free and reduced-price meal program, students experiencing homelessness, foster youth, migrant students, or students whose parents did not graduate from high school. Districts will administer an effectiveness survey to students and parents around March 2022.
The program aims to reduce transportation costs for low-income families, attract new and more frequent riders and provide insights into the potential operational impacts of providing free fares to a subset of youth riders.