Three reasons why ‘Ryde Free RT’ is a game-changer for Sacramento and its youth

An innovative new program that allows local youth to ride free on Sacramento Regional Transit buses and trains kicked off Oct. 1 with a celebration event at C.K. McClatchy High School.

RydeFreeRT, partially funded by the City of Sacramento with money generated from the Measure U sales tax, was championed by City Councilmember Jay Schenirer, who also sits on the SacRT board.

“We’re providing an equitable investment in receiving an education,” said Schenirer, who worked more than eight years on the program to make it a reality. “By eliminating transportation barriers, we’re increasing chances for more young people to succeed in school, career and life.”

A recent survey involving three Sac Unified schools found that approximately one in four students reported missing at least one day of school in the six weeks prior to the survey because of transportation issues.

With that in mind, here are three reasons why RydeFreeRT will be a game changer in Sacramento:

  • It will empower youth and improve school attendance. Serving nearly 220,000 students in transitional kindergarten through 12th grade, the program eliminates barriers that keep kids from attending school and works to level the playing field for disadvantaged youth.
  • It will improve our local economy. Kids who attend school regularly do better in school, which ultimately leads to a stronger work force. The program also offers working parents more transportation options. Lastly, RydeFreeRT allows students to travel around the city as they please, helping them secure and keep part-time jobs and participate in after-school activities and events.
  • It will help the environment. More kids using public transportation means fewer parents and cars on the road. The program also helps young people become accustomed to traveling without the use of a car, a habit that will reduce future greenhouse gas emissions and have a positive effect on climate change.

Students enrolled in schools in SacRT’s service area have already been issued their 2019-2020 student ID card, which displays a special sticker for free SacRT ridership. Youth not enrolled in school can receive a RydeFreeRT card at a Sacramento library or at SacRT’s Customer Service and Sales Center located at 1225 R St. (adjacent to the 13th Street Station).

RydeFreeRT waives youth fares on bus, light rail, and SmaRT Ride microtransit service across SacRT’s service area, which includes the cities of Sacramento, Folsom, Citrus Heights, and Rancho Cordova and parts of Sacramento County. Home-schooled students and foster and homeless youth are all eligible for a free pass.

For more information about the program, visit