It was designed to give young people a free and easy way to get to school and work as well as fun places to hang out with friends.
The Sacramento City Council on Tuesday approved a motion that provides $750,000 for the program, which offers free bus, light-rail and micro-transit shuttle rides for all students in transitional kindergarten through 12th grade.
“RydeFreeRT is a critical piece in supporting our young people and ensuring their success in life,” said Councilmember Jay Schenirer, who championed the program and helped to make it a reality. “It may seem small, but access to free transportation is a win for the City, Sac Regional Transit and our kids.”
Launched in the fall of 2019, RydeFreeRT responded to the needs expressed in a survey involving three Sacramento Unified schools, which found that approximately one in four students reported missing at least one day of school during a six-week period because of transportation issues.
Following the launch, SacRT saw student ridership increase by 125%, with tens of thousands of students utilizing the program each month.
Distance learning during the pandemic hampered program growth in 2020, but SacRT said it expects stronger numbers this year with students returning to the classroom.
In addition to helping students and parents by eliminating barriers that keep kids from attending school, RydeFreeRT also improves the environment by keeping cars off the road and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, officials said.
It also is a boon to the 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, which helps them to do their jobs more effectively.
In the end, RydeFreeRT allows students to travel around the city as they please, officials said, helping them to perform better academically, secure and keep part-time jobs and participate in after-school activities and events.
For more information on the program, including how to get a free pass: https://www.sacrt.com/rydefreert/