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Montgomery County Urged to Offer Students Unlimited, Free Public Transport

Montgomery County, Maryland, has been requested to remove time restrictions on its ‘Kids Ride Free’ program to further enable less-resourceful students at school and outside.

I urge you to make the Kids Ride Free program available all day, seven days a week, to every Montgomery County Public School student,” County Council Member Evan Glass has appealed to County Executive March Elrich in a letter. 

Without an expansion, as is currently not considered as per Elrich’s proposed budget, students will continue to be able to enjoy a free ride on all Ride On buses as well as some Metro buses for only six hours after 2 pm once they purchase a Kids Ride Free pass for $2. Students must also be a resident in Montgomery. They, however, will be subjected to a regular fare at other times. 

Council member Glass, a former CNN journalist and a long time advocate for everyday life improvements in the county, is not a stranger to public transportation issues. He takes two buses between his home in Silver Spring to his office in Rockville twice each working day. In doing so, he has not only been applauded for opting to public transportation instead of private means in a show of humility but also exposed to and able to internalize the same commute problems as other residents. Not too long after he was elected, Glass had to spend an entire 90 minutes on a day to get home. “So I understand how difficult it is for adults, let alone students,” he was recently quoted as saying by The Montgomery County Sentinel. Unsurprisingly, Glass added in the same report, the students are complaining about “the unreliability of bus service and the routes within the system.”

In his letter addressing Elrich, Glass has noted that the more-resourceful communities have two times the amount of bus service than the poorer communities while it is actually the latter who rely on public transportation more. “Economic status should not determine our students’ ability to get to the library, Metro or back to their homes. When kids have to pay to go to school, to go to work, to care for family members, to attend after-school programs, it puts them at a tremendous disadvantage,” he wrote, summarizing his message as “Inequality of mobility leads to inequality of opportunity.” 

Currently, 73,000 people use Ride On bus service each day on average and providing an all-day free bus service to students would cost some $1 million per annum according to the calculations made by the county’s Department of Transportation.

Glass is the Montgomery County’s first LGBTQ council member and he is currently one of four council members that are elected at-large by all the voters of the county. The other five members are elected by the voters of their respective council districts. He is sitting in the committee of Health and Human Service as well as the committee of Transportation and Environment.

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