SamTrans to Launch Pilot Program to Give Free Rides to Low-Income Students


SamTrans Acting General Manager/CEO Carter Mau announced that SamTrans, in partnership with the San Mateo County Office of Education, is launching a six-month pilot program to offer free fares to low-income students at the agency’s December Board Meeting. SamTrans is creating passes that will be given to school districts to distribute to qualified students, giving passholders free rides on all SamTrans bus routes through June 2022, at which time a decision will be made as to whether to continue the pilot into the next school year.

All students that are classified as Socioeconomically Disadvantaged (SED) by the California Department of Education are qualified for the new SamTrans Youth Unlimited Pass. SED students include students that are eligible for the Free and Reduced-Price Meal program, students experiencing homelessness, foster-youth, migrant students, or students whose parents did not graduate high school.

Districts will administer a survey to students and parents around March 2022, which will provide information as to the effectiveness of the program. The overall goals of the program are to reduce transportation costs for low-income families, attract new and more frequent riders and understand the potential operation impacts of providing free fares to a subset of youth riders.

“Transit costs can present a major obstacle for struggling families,” said SamTrans Board Chair Charles Stone. “Providing free passes to kids will help support their opportunities for success and expands SamTrans’ many efforts promoting equity.”


About SamTrans: SamTrans operates 70 routes throughout San Mateo County.  Funded in part by a half-cent sales tax, the San Mateo County Transit District also provides administrative support for Caltrain and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority. SamTrans has provided bus service to San Mateo County customers since 1976.

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