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LA will make DASH buses free for students

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The city’s transportation department says nearly one-quarter of riders use the buses to get to school

Students can ride free on DASH buses starting this coming school year.

The school year is ending in Los Angeles, but when classes resume in August, students will be able to benefit from free rides on the city’s DASH buses.

Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a one-year pilot program earlier this week that will eliminate fares for K-12 and college students. Right now, it only costs 50 cents to ride DASH buses—or 35 cents with a TAP card. But that can add up over time, and the city’s transportation department estimates that nearly one-quarter of DASH riders use the buses to get to-and-from school.

In a statement Monday, the mayor said the program could “help students get to class on time, save money for families who are struggling to make ends meet, boost school attendance, and empower young people to get involved with clubs or take a job that previously felt out of reach.”

To do that, though, they’ll have to register for the free fares, and that’s a bit of a process. The transportation department is administering the pilot through Metro’s reduced fare program, which requires students to create an account, get a parent’s signature, and verify enrollment with a report card or student ID.

That means it will likely be on schools and community centers to let families know about the program in time for students to complete the steps necessary to qualify.

Eli Lipmen, director of development and programming with Move LA, suggests that Metro could roll out a similar program to further reduce the cost of transit for students in the LA area.

Metro already offers discounted fares for students, but this reduces the cost of a bus or train ride to $1, which is still twice the cost of a full-price DASH trip.

“We need to find champions at Metro to expand this great DASH program to all transit operators,” wrote Lipmen in an email to reporters and transit advocates.