HART to offer free rides for students this spring
Middle and high school students will be able to ride Hillsborough County buses for free this spring, in a move that transportation leaders hope will boost transit use in the area.
The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority will once again offer free rides to students under 18 who show their school ID starting March 1.
This is the seventh year of the program, which normally only runs in March to coordinate with spring break. However, HART is extending the discount through June 10 this year. At the end of the three months, officials will determine whether the program will be continued on a larger scale, perhaps for the whole year.
The hope is that if teenagers become accustomed to riding transit while in school, those habits will carry on when making decisions about how to get to work or social events.
“We are still a very car centric community with most of our citizens relyiong on a car to get around," said Kevin Beckner, Hillsborough County Commissioner and HART board member. "We have to start changing the mindset, and the best way to do that is with our youth"
HART gave 340,000 free trips to students in the past six years of the program, for which it partners with Hillsborough County Public Schools. Trips peaked in 2012, but HART CEO Katharine Eagan attributed that to a lack of outreach and marketing.