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Stockton Unified and RTD start no cost rides for students

Two-year pilot program allows for all Stockton Unified School District students to ride public transit for free year round

STOCKTON, Calif. — Starting Thursday, Aug. 1, middle and high school students in the Stockton Unified School District [SUSD] can ride San Joaquin Regional Transit District [RTD] buses year round at no cost.

"So, this is an amazing opportunity for our familes and particularly our youth," John Deasy, Stockton Unified School District Superintendent, said, adding community leaders got together earlier this year and tried to find a way to provide another avenue to get kids to school and lower chronic absenteeism.

He says in the three months time, a deal was struck with RTD. The school district budgeted $800,000 each year for the two-year pilot program. Students are able to use the bus service for after-school programs and can take the bus to community centers, libraries, jobs, and medical appointments. All students need to do is show their student ID.

"There's going to be no reason not to get to school, no reason," Deasy said.

With this partnership, RTD also hopes to increase their ridership.

"We want to get students used to taking public transportation for many reasons, including the fact that it's better for the environment, helps with congestion, but also in terms of helping SUSD with absenteeism levels," Emily Oestreicher, RTD spokesperson, said.

She added that there are plans to soon use an App called Token Transit for students to use.

The Lodi Unified School District also announced a similar program starting Aug. 1, using the Lodi's GrapeLine bus service. Students from kindergarten to senior year of high school can board any Lodi GrapeVine fixed or express route bus during any of their service hours, including weekends. Students just need to show their student ID to get a free ride.

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