Push to make freerider program permanent for kids before it expires – Action News Jax

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A free option for kids to get to and from school is now at risk of expiring at the end of the school year.

Currently, the MyRide2School pilot program serves nearly 7,000 students in Duval County, particularly those in the Moncrief and Westside areas.

Kipp Academy, sophomore Harmony Colson takes advantage of the program. She is accompanied by her father, Andra Colson.

“As a single dad, the opportunities are pretty limited,” Colson said. “It’s not far from our house, and it comes straight to the school.”

The pilot program began in January and allows students to ride the bus for free during school hours, Monday through Friday.

RELATED: Middle and high school students can ride JTA buses for free from January 4

“It’s just an inexpensive way to travel right now, due to the gas shortage,” Colson said.

The data shows that others are benefiting as the price at the pump increases. According to JTA, in January, the number of users of the program was 4,485. In February, this number increased to 6,870. This month, it was 6,667. As of April 22, more than 5,000 students had used the service.

David Cawton, the JTA spokesman, said more than 400 to 500 students on average use the service each week. “For us, it does several things,” Cawton explained. “It removes a financial barrier. It is another option for families and it is also the introduction of a new generation in public transport.

The program is due to expire at the end of May, but there is strong pressure to make it permanent.

“Every time we introduce a material change to our fairs — in this case, the elimination of a fair — we have to do an analysis,” Cawton said. “[This is] to ensure that we not only do the most good for communities, but that we do not disadvantage anyone else in doing so. This analysis should be completed this summer.

Cawton said he would like to expand the program to include free passengers for students during all bus hours and on weekends as well.

There are 34 JTA bus routes that stop at or near local schools.

Students and parents are encouraged to visit schedules.jtafla.com or contact JTA Customer Service at (904) 630-3100 with any questions.

Earnest L. Veasey