Zero Fare for Youth is a one-year pilot program aiming to welcome the next generation of transit users at no cost. The program will run from Sept. 1 through Aug. 21, 2024.
The program hopes to remove barriers to education and employment for youth in Colorado.
Anyone 19 or younger can ride the bus and train at no cost. All you need is a valid ID. The rider must show the bus operator their current school ID, valid government-issued ID, alien registration/permanent resident card, military ID/dependent card with date of birth, or RTD-issued youth special discount card and they are off to their next destination.
According to RTD, a household can save nearly $10,000 by taking public transportation and living with one less car. It also offers flexibility for parents who can’t take their students to school.
Could free RTD help students without school transportation?
Many schools are experiencing bus cuts and cannot provide transportation for students five days a week.
At the beginning of August, the Douglas County School District announced a rolling cancellation bus schedule. Many of the cuts were due to a bus driver shortage.
According to a letter sent to families, each student’s bus route will be on for four weeks and then off for one week with this schedule rotating throughout the year. Most students will be without a bus for seven weeks of the school year.
Students in other districts are left without transportation to school on Fridays.
While RTD does not stop door-to-door for students like yellow school buses can, students and parents can look up routes that get students close to their schools.
RTD has seen success from free fare periods. For two months of the summer, RTD offers the Zero Fare for Better Air initiative. During 2022, RTD saw a 20% increase in ridership during this time period.