Florida County Launches Free Transit Pilot for Student Riders
Florida County Launches Free Transit Pilot for Student Riders

The Jacksonville Transit Authority (JTA), city of Jacksonville, and Duval County (Fla.) Public Schools are launching a new student transportation option in the face of an ongoing nationwide school bus driver shortage.

The My Ride 2 School pilot program provides free transit bus rides to middle and high school students in public, charter, and private schools.

Terrance Freeman, vice president of Jacksonville City Council, encouraged the program’s concept, according to The Florida Times-Union.

“I quickly realized there was a great need,” Freeman said, according to an article in the newspaper. “When I think of the value of a program like this, I think of what the purpose is – these kids are getting a ride to school, to jobs.”

Jacksonville students who show valid school identification can ride any JTA or First Coast Flyer bus free on school days from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Bus riders must wear masks to satisfy a federal requirement. The free rides also are available to students involved in JTA’s Connexion Plus ride service, which transports about 50 students with disabilities in the area.

The JTA buses aren’t replacing traditional yellow school buses, but are instead giving students another option.

“It is very important to know that we are not changing our current services,” said Superintendent Diana Greene. “We have over 900 buses running hundreds of bus routes. This allows another option, including for after-school jobs and activities.”