The MTA is mulling the idea of giving free MetroCards to New York City students who take public buses to school.
On Wednesday, the MTA board is expected to vote on the proposal to replace the current student cards—half-fare, bus-only MetroCards for K-12 students living at least half a mile from their school, and replacing them with full-fare cards for both bus and subway use with three free rides per day.
“This is a common-sense policy that makes it easier for kids to get to school and does away with needless complexities that have existed for too long,” New York City Transit President Andy Byford said in a statement Sunday. “Replacing half-fare cards with full-fare ones saves money for students and saves time for everyone on a bus since the need for coins is eliminated.”
According to the schools.nyc.gov, half-fare student MetroCards are a relatively small subset of MetroCards that allow bus-only access to K-12 students in the city who live at least a half mile from their school. Students using this type of card are supposed to pay $1.35 in coins for each ride with the half-fare card, which can both increase dwell time and be challenging to collect.
“This is a social justice and equity issue for students who are forced to pay to go to public school,” Assembly Member Harvey Epstein said in a statement. “I commend the MTA for working towards a solution to provide more equity in transportation for New York’s students.”
Student passes are set up so students can travel to and from school and school-related activities between 5:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. on days when the student’s school is open for classes. Currently, there are approximately 27,000 daily bus trips using the half-fare cards.