With Metro Transit’s K-12 Rides Free program, Omaha students can ride city buses for free for one year

Zach Gilbert

From May 10, 2021 to June 1, 2022, Metro Transit is offering free bus rides to elementary and high school students in the Omaha metropolitan area. Photo courtesy of WOWT.

Starting May 10, Metro Transit will implement a program that will allow all elementary and high school students in the Omaha metropolitan area to travel free of charge on city buses for almost 13 months.

Until June 1, 2022, the “K-12 Rides Free” program offers the kindergarten for 12th grade students the opportunity to travel free of charge by bus, MOBY and ORBT through Omaha and the surrounding area during service hours.

Although ID is not required for teenagers attending elementary and middle schools, students must present valid student ID before boarding a bus. If you do not have such an ID, you can get one from Metro.

According to the program’s press release, it is intended to “provide better access to public transport as the city’s education sector continues to grow” and “the COVID-19 pandemic continues to transform transport needs in the region”.

Omaha Public Schools (OPS) were quick to offer their support for the K-12 Rides Free program.

“As Omaha Public Schools expand the opportunities for students in our district and prepare to open two new high schools, we are excited to support the opportunity Metro Transit is offering young people in our community,” said OPS Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Logan.

Metro officials – including CEO Lauren Cencic – said they were pleased to provide students with “reliable access to education, jobs and other opportunities throughout the subway area.”

“K-12 Rides Free is a great opportunity for us to continue to build strong community partnerships,” said Cencic. “Our mission is to connect people, places and opportunities through high quality transit services. The schools in our community are important anchors in this mission.”

Elkhorn High School teacher Abby Whalen said she was confident about what this program would mean for Omaha public transportation as a whole.

“Omaha public transport has grown lately with more buses and fast routes, but the system has huge room for improvement when compared to other cities of its kind,” said Whalen.

In particular, Whalen stated that the students would benefit both personally and professionally.

“If you add more bus routes and allow students to ride those buses for free, more kids can get to work or activities,” said Whalen. “Gasoline prices, insurance, and car payments add up quickly. Teens may find it easier to save for these expenses, or the long list of other expenses that come with growing up, when they go to work without worrying about paying for the ride. “

Looking ahead, Whalen has several other suggestions for expanding Omaha public transportation.

“I teach in a suburb of Omaha where public transport is not yet a stronghold,” said Whalen. “The fast transit from West East to hotspots in the city like Aksarben / UNO, Blackstone / Midtown or the CHI Center could connect youngsters with the entertainment offerings of Omaha and expand their job radius as more transit develops.”



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