Teenagers ages 13 to 18 can pick up a Youth GoPass and start riding public buses across the Triangle for free. The new Youth GoPass is a collective effort between GoRaleigh, GoTriangle, GoCary and GoDurham, the four public transportation agencies that cover broad swaths of the Triangle. Already, kids 12 and under ride the bus for free. (Chapel Hill Transit buses also are free for all riders.) – Read the full article at WRAL.com
What’s the story behind the Youth GoPass?
Local officials say there are several reasons to make bus rides free for teens.
Raleigh City Council member Kay Crowder actually first brought up the idea of free rides for teens as she looked for ways to encourage bus use and help them get where they needed to go, according to a Raleigh press release.
Fewer teens are driving and aren’t able to shuttle themselves between home, school, job, activities and friends. According to the Pew Charitable Trust, the number of high school seniors with a driver’s license in the South dropped from 88.6 percent in 1996 to 71.2 percent in 2015.
It also helps families without their own vehicles. “We have a lot of families that depend on public transportation to get around,” said Charbonneau tells me.
The Youth GoPass also can help build a new generation of public transportation users, he said. In the next decade, local bus service will grow. Plans also are in the works for light rail in the region.
So far, the Youth GoPass has proved popular. In July, during a soft launch of the program in Raleigh, 200 teens picked up a Youth GoPass and used it on more than 1,700 trips, according to the city.
What do I need to get a Youth GoPass?
It’s really easy.
Just print out the online application and bring along a document that proves the teen is between the ages of 13 to 18 to a Youth GoPass pick-up location. Proof of age documents that will be accepted include a copy of a birth certificate, a valid school ID, a license or other government-issued ID. If you don’t have access to a computer or printer, pick-up locations also will have applications available.
Where are the Youth GoPass pick-up locations?
All over Wake, Durham and Orange counties.
You can find them at the offices for the local transit agencies, city of Raleigh community centers and Wake County Regional Centers. They also are available at Wake County, Durham County and Orange County public libraries. GoTriangle’s website lists all of the locations.
If a teen doesn’t have a Youth GoPass, how much will they pay?
The current full fare for those paying on the bus is $2.25 each way. In most cases, teens have enjoyed some kind of discount – typically about half price, but it really depends on the system. So most teens have been paying between about $1 and $1.25 each way.
Going forward, if a teen does not have a Youth GoPass, they will continue to pay that discounted rate to ride the bus, Charbonneau tells me.
Where can you go on local buses?
Among its many routes, public buses in the Triangle stop at all major malls and shopping centers, museums, downtown areas, colleges and universities and many schools. GoTriangle’s trip planner makes it incredibly easy to map out your route. You can just key in your origin and destination. From there, the trip planner will tell you exactly what buses you’ll need to catch.
Can teens ride by themselves without a parent or adult?
Yes, says Charbonneau. They do not need to be accompanied by an adult to ride the bus.
“We do have a number of young people who already are using public transportation to get to and from school,” said Charbonneau. Many are riding the buses to charter schools and Moore Square Middle School, a Wake County public school in downtown Raleigh, he said.
Are the buses safe for teens?
Charbonneau said they get this question a lot.
“Safety is our top priority,” he said. “We are making sure that all of our passengers, no matter what age they are, get where they need to go safely.”
All buses in the Triangle are considered “Safe Places,” just like fire stations, libraries and many other public venues.
“We already have operators that are trained to help young people who need it, to make sure they are providing a safe environment,” he said.
How can parents help a teen who might be riding the bus for the first time?
“We encourage parents to plan the trip out with their teen and even go try to ride it once to test the run out with them,” Charbonneau said.
He recommends walking through the GoTriangle trip planning app with your teen to ensure they know how to use it.
“We’re hoping between making it easier and more affordable (and adding new service), we’ll open up a world of opportunities that may not exist for some of our young people today,” Charbonneau said.