(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, Mayor Bowser celebrated the District’s 2017-2018 Back to School Safety Campaign by highlighting the programs and initiatives in place to keep students safe as they return to school. The Mayor was joined by District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Interim Director Jeff Marootian, Deputy Mayor for Education (DME) Jennifer Niles, Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Assistant Chief Kimberly Chisley-Missouri, and Metro Transit Police Deputy Chief Kevin Gaddis.
“As the recent PARCC results demonstrate, District schools continue to make progress and serve our students and families well. However, we know that there is more work to do in order to get all students college and career ready and one place we can start is by ensuring that more students are in class, ready to learn every day,” said Mayor Bowser. “Finding affordable, reliable transportation is a big challenge for many families, but through the Kids Ride Free program, we have created a more equitable system and provided more students with the resources they need to get to and from school. Today, we are asking all families to check their DC One Cards to make sure students are prepared for the first day of school.”
In 2015, in order to reduce barriers that prevent students from attending school every day, Mayor Bowser expanded the Kids Ride Free program to include free Metrorail trips. Today, the program is available to approximately 70,000 students, ages 5 to 21, who live in Washington, DC and are enrolled in a public school. Kids Ride Free offers students free school-related travel on Metrobus, the DC Circulator, and Metrorail within Washington, DC. To participate in the Kids Ride Free program, students must have the pass loaded onto their DC One Card. On a typical school day, students take about 30,000 bus trips and 10,000 Metrorail trips using the Kids Ride Free program.
This year, DDOT and the DME jointly funded an enhancement that, for the first time, allowed passes to be loaded before the end of the 2016-2017 school year. As a result, more than 16,000 pass holders have already loaded their 2017-2018 passes – five times the number who had done so in August 2016. DCPS and public charter school students eligible for the Kids Ride Free program who have a DC One Card will be automatically issued the electronic pass. In order to receive free Metrobus and DC Circulator access, students enrolled in private school can contact their ID administrator and register at dconecard.dc.gov. All students can confirm their pass is loaded by viewing their card status at dconecard.dc.gov or calling (202) 673-1740. Until the pass is loaded, students must pay regular Metrobus, DC Circulator, and Metrorail fares. Students are reminded that even though rides are free with the Kids Ride Free program, they still need to tap their DC One Cards at Metrorail faregates and Metrobus fareboxes.
“DDOT is committed to ensuring all District residents and visitors have access to safe transit options,” said DDOT Interim Director Jeff Marootian. “This includes our more than 70,000 District students. There are lots of details for families to sort as students return to school. Allowing for the Kids Ride Free pass to be loaded before the end of the previous school year leaves one less task to sort in August and September. We are excited to invest in this program and see it continue to grow.”
The Back to School Safety Campaign also includes the Safe Passage program, a collaborative effort between the DME and the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice, which will, from August 21 through August 25, increase adult supervision around ten locations with high student traffic: Georgia Avenue Metro, L’Enfant Plaza Metro, Brookland/CUA Metro, Rhode Island Avenue Metro, Anacostia Metro, Minnesota Avenue Metro, Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro, Columbia Heights Metro, NOMA/ Gallaudet Metro, and the Good Hope Road SE Corridor.
As part of the Bowser Administration’s Every Day Counts! tour, the Mayor continues to highlight the importance of students attending school every day. School attendance is a key predictor of student achievement, and in DC, approximately one out of every four students is chronically absent, meaning they miss 10 percent or more of the entire school year. By sixth grade, missing 10 percent of the school year is strongly linked to dropping out of high school. Together, Mayor Bowser and the Every Day Counts! Task Force, spearheaded by the DME, will combat chronic absenteeism by increasing coordination across public agencies and stakeholders, investing in data-driven strategies to increase attendance rates, and rewarding students and schools that improve attendance throughout the school year.
In Fiscal Year 2017, Mayor Bowser invested more than $12 million in programs that address truancy and absenteeism and more than $18 million in the Kids Ride Free program. In her Fiscal Year 2018 budget, the Mayor increased investments in programs that work to reduce absenteeism, including a $3.3 million increase in funding for Parent and Adolescent Support Services (PASS) , Alternatives to the Court Experience (ACE) Diversion Program, and additional investments in the expansion of Show Up, Stand Out, a free program to help students and families get to school every day.
For more information about the Kids Ride Free program, visit DDOT's website and follow DDOT on Facebook and Twitter.