ORANGE COUNTY, California – Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley, who sits on the Board of Directors for the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), released the following statement, in response to the Youth Ride Free Pass becoming permanent. OCTA is the first large transit agency in the region to offer free bus rides to all youth ages 6 to 18 on an ongoing basis.
“This program provides students more access to our clean, safe public transit system for their daily routine. Gone are the days when teachers and school counselors bought bus passes so their students could attend school or after school activities. I love the added bonus that all students can jump on the bus with their bike, surfboard, or skateboard and enjoy a day at the beach without the hassle or expense of parking. The ‘ultimate goal’ is to create a public transit-going culture where people can be confident in the public transit system taking them to school, sports, work, appointments, shopping, and to recreate.” said Supervisor Foley
During a promotional period, more than 765,000 trips were recorded using the pass and projections show that an estimated 1.7 million trips will be taken annually, using the pass. By using the Youth Ride Free pass, passengers ages 6 to 18 years old can ride any OCTA fixed-route bus in Orange County for free. According to recent U.S. Census data, there are more than 520,000 youth in that age group that are eligible to ride free.
The free rides for youth program also helps to reduce traffic congestion by taking cars off the local roads, improving air quality, and reducing carbon emissions as we transition to cleaner buses.
Supervisor Foley will continue to support OCTA’s work with school districts, teachers, coaches, and school counselors across Orange County to distribute the passes and provide information for parents to request the pass for their children. Parents can also request the passes online (http://www.octa.net/Bus/Fares-and-Passes/Specialty-Passes/Youth-Pass/). Originally intended for youth up to 13 years old, the OCTA board voted, last year, to expand the pass to also reach high-school-age teens.
OCTA is working with Caltrans and California Air Resources Board to continue to use Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (LCTOP) funds to support these initiatives. LCTOP funding is made possible by the California Climate Investments program as 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.
Supervisor Katrina Foley currently represents Orange County’s Second District, which currently includes Santa Ana. and portions of Garden Grove, Tustin, Orange, and Anaheim.