Hillsborough kids get free HART bus rides

Posted at 6:14 PM, Feb 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-03 23:54:45-05

Hillsborough County School students will now have access to free HART bus passes just by showing their school ID card.

Starting March 1 through June 10, by providing their school ID, middle and high school students 18 and younger can ride for free on any HART Local, Limited Express, MetroRapid or In-Towner bus, as well as HARTFlex services. 

While it may seem untraditional, some students at Jefferson High School are already riding HART buses to and from school and like it.

"You know you're guaranteed to have a ride home, and that's why I like riding the bus. I know it's going to get me and get me there safe, too," said Sharina Evans, a student at Jefferson.

"I don't have to worry about how I'm going to get to school, how I'm going to get home," said Cierra Scott, another Jefferson student.

The goal is to help boost HART ridership, but also give kids more ways to get to and from school safely. 

"So you never have to wonder how your child is getting to or from that activity," said Katharine Eagan, CEO of HART.

"[It's] teaching kids that there's options out there for them," said Cindy Stuart, a Hillsborough County School Board member.

The school board, and students, believe this will give kids more access to afterschool activities because they will not have to worry about being picked up by parents or friends.

"They can still join that team, there won't be an excuse for them not to," Scott said.

If a student has lost their school ID, parents can take them to the Marion Transit Center in Downtown Tampa and purchase a youth ID for $2.50. This can be used to ride the bus for free and expires on the child's 18th birthday.

While the free bus pass program ends in June, school board members said plans are already in the works to hopefully expand it into the summer months.