Ride On cuts hinder student independence

By By Julie Kracov, Business Manager

After the Kids Ride Free program for all Metro and Ride On buses was suspended June 27 due to the budget deficit in Montgomery County, students are now forced to pay for the bus or find new transportation.

The program had become popular among students because they no longer needed their parents for rides, and using the bus gave them independence.

“I would take the Ride On bus on Friday afternoons because it is easy, accessible, my friends take it and I could go to lots of places,” junior Stephanie Kramer said.

For students like Kramer who relied on the program, there are other economical alternatives. Students who are under 18 can purchase a monthly Youth Cruiser pass for $11 that works with unlimited rides, and for the summer, students can buy a monthly $18 Summer Youth Cruiser Pass. The passes are available online at RideOn.com.

“These passes are very economical for students and can be used anytime of the day whereas the Kids Ride Free program had time restrictions,” Esther Bowring, a Montgomery County public information officer said.

The Kids Ride Free program, which allowed MCPS students to ride free on the buses from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. on school days, was enacted in 2000 as a way to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Ride On bus system. However, with the 2008 economical slump, the Montgomery County budget came under pressure.

“The county had a one billion dollar budget deficit last year, and every department was asked to make cuts, “Bowring said. “Ride On proposed to the cut the program. Unless there is a lot of public pressure or the budget somehow increases drastically, the program will not be back in the near future.”