Transit Rides Now Free for Kids in Austin
Ryan Thornton reports from Austin, where Capital Metro has decided to make public transit free to all children under the age 19.
A Kids Ride Free pilot program this summer was part of a larger effort to attract riders with late-night weekend rail service and free rides for students in grades K-12. When the summer program expired in late September, Capital Metro pushed the expiration date for free student fares back to Dec. 10, with some discussion about adopting the fare structure when the pilot ended. On Wednesday afternoon, by a unanimous vote from the agency’s board of directors, fares for K-12 students and MetroAccess riders under the age of 19 were permanently eliminated on all Capital Metro services.
According to Thornton, Capital Metro added 120,000 new service hours over the summer, but instead of raising fares to cover costs, system officials has decided instead that a new generation of riders is most valuable to the long term viability of the system's ridership.