Omaha Metro extends free K-12 ride program through summer

The Omaha City Transit Authority (Omaha Metro) has extended its K-12 Rides Free program during the summer holidays.

The program provides free access to public transit for K-12 students in the Omaha area.

“The K-12 Rides Free program has shown us how many students are interested in using public transit,” said Lauren Cencic, CEO of Omaha Metro. “We are excited to expand access to students seeking a variety of opportunities over the summer, including education, jobs and other activities.”

The pilot program offers free bus, MOBY and ORBT rides for all K-12 students in and around Omaha during regular operating hours. The program began on May 10, 2021 and was scheduled to end on June 1, 2022.

The program highlighted a strong demand from young people to use public transit in the community. K-12 Rides Free is on track to surpass 150,000 rides by the end of the school year, up 75% from pre-COVID-19 student numbers.

“National trends show that more teenagers are waiting longer to get their driver’s license,” Cencic said. “K-12 Rides Free provides an easy alternative, while teaching them the skills to navigate public transportation as they get older.”

The first year of K-12 Rides Free was funded by a grant from a local philanthropic organization. Based on the success of the pilot project, Omaha Metro is seeking additional funding to expand the program. Omaha Metro will share updated information on the future of the program before the start of the next school year.

Melvin Z. Madore