The popular promotional pass that allows Orange County youth to ride free is now permanent, making OCTA the first large transit agency in the region to offer free bus rides to all youth ages 6 to 18 on an ongoing basis.
The decision to extend the Youth Ride Free program indefinitely follows a successful six-month promotion during which the pass was offered through local school districts and the OCTA store.
During the promotional period, more than 765,000 trips were recorded using the pass. Projections show that an estimated 1.7 million trips will be taken annually using the pass.
“We’re happy to see so many young people in Orange County respond to the Youth Ride Free program to get to school, to work, to the library and to so many other destinations that improve their quality of life,” said OCTA Chairman Mark A. Murphy, also the Mayor of Orange. “We on the OCTA Board of Directors see strong value in continuing the free fares with the hope more young people will discover how convenient public transit can be and will keep riding for years to come.”
The Youth Ride Free pass allows passengers ages 6 to 18 years to ride any OCTA fixed-route bus in Orange County for free. According to recent U.S. Census data, that makes more than 520,000 youth in that age group eligible to ride free.
The program also reduces traffic congestion, taking cars off local roads and improving air quality in the process.
Based on the number of youth who utilized the pass during the six-month promotional period, the annual cost is estimated to be about $2.2 million. OCTA is working with Caltrans and California Air Resources Board to continue to use Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (LCTOP) funds. LCTOP funding is made possible by the California Climate Investments program, a statewide initiative that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment – particularly in disadvantaged communities.
The Youth Ride Free pass, available by request from parents, is a physical pass with a magnetic stripe. OCTA will continue working to distribute the passes in partnership with local K-12 school districts, as well as at the OCTA store and online. For more information about the Youth Ride Free pass, visit here.