Sacramento kids, teens, can ride RT for free thanks to Measure U

Sacramento kids, teens, can ride RT for free thanks to Measure U

Starting Oct. 1, Sacramento children and teens who rely on buses and light rail to get around will be able to ride for free.

The City Council Tuesday approved an agreement with Sacramento Regional Transit to launch the program, which will provide fare-free transit for approximately 100,000 young people in grades K-12. Fares are still required for the month of September.

RT’s new SmaRT Ride micro-buses can be summoned on demand through a smart phone app.

RT’s new SmaRT Ride micro-buses can be summoned on demand through a smart phone app.

Funding of $1 million is coming from the 1-cent Measure U sales tax passed by voters in November. The money was included in the city’s 2019-20 budget at the request of Councilmember Jay Schenirer with the support of Mayor Darrell Steinberg.

“Lack of access to transportation is one of the major drivers of chronic absenteeism in our schools,” said Jorge Aguilar, superintendent of the Sacramento City Unified School District. “Eliminating this barrier for our students will bolster our efforts to improve attendance and student achievement during the school year.”

Students within the City of Sacramento will automatically receive a RydeFreeRT sticker with their valid school ID this year. Those experiencing homelessness or taking part in foster programs will also be allowed to participate regardless of current residence address or school address.

If you are not attending a participating school, you can check in with your local library or visit sacrt.com.

The new partnership aims to improve school attendance, develop lifelong transit riders, increase access to transportation for disadvantaged youth, and ultimately help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

SacRT estimates the free fares will produce 1.1 million additional boardings on buses and trains each year.

 The program will run from October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020. Young people will enjoy free access to the entire SacRT network, including buses, rail lines, and SmaRT Ride microtransit service all day, week and year.

The free-fare program fits within the youth policy framework adopted by the council in 2017 to create pathways for all children in Sacramento to reach their full potential.

Mayor Steinberg said fare-free transit is a downpayment on the investments in young people that the City of Sacramento will be able to make now that voters have approved the 1-cent Measure U sales tax.

“We need to make sure all of our young people in the City of Sacramento are prepared to enter the workforce and qualify for well-paying jobs,” Mayor Steinberg said. “A crucial step in that process is making sure they can get to school and to internships like the ones we have created through our Thousand Strong program.”

For more information about Regional Transit’s upcoming fare-free youth program, please visit www.RYDEFreert.com.

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