Kids under 18 ride free on Ride On buses
On July 1, Montgomery County will reinstate the Kids Ride Free (KRF) policy for all Ride On buses and a majority of Metro buses. The program, which is returning from a year long hiatus, allows students 18 and under to ride free of charge, as long as a school ID is presented when boarding the bus.The reinstatement of the KRF program will cost $376,000 of the $4.4 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2012, but Ride On bus driver Michelle Winters believes the benefits of the program outweigh the costs. "When the program was cut, I saw an immediate drop in the amount of kids who took the bus, and from my own experience with my own kids, it meant that they were dependant on others for rides," she said.
According to County Councilman Member George Leventhal, efforts to keep the program continuous from year to year are promising, but the long-term success of KRF depends on the county's financial situation. "Economic hardships force the Council to review every aspect of the budget and that recent cutbacks, while drastic, are necessary to sustain the standard operating level of county services," he said.
Winters believes that the KRF program benefits both parents and students since it provides students with safe and convenient mode of transportation. "I have seen more teenage driving accidents than you can imagine," she said. "Having a trained professional like me driving teenagers around is much safer."
Leventhal stated that the dismissal of KRF last year proved to be a hardship on parents and students in the area, and believes that many people, parents and students included have awaited the return of the program. "I fought to reinstate this program because I heard from so many students about how a lack of transportation access was affecting their lives and making it difficult for them to participate in after-school activities and jobs," he said.
For senior Nilay Kumar, a frequent Ride On user, the program presents an alternative to walking or biking. "If I can get somewhere using my bike or walking, I will, but the bus is definitely a safer and quicker option," he said.
For more information regarding Metro buses participating in the Kids Ride Free program, please visit Montgomery County's web site. To see previous Silver Chips coverage on the Kids Ride Free program, click here for the Print story.
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