Any student in Arlington can now ride free on Arlington transit including ART bus and Metro bus routes within Arlington with an iRide SmartTrip card.
This effort began with ART half price tickets where students could ride for $1, then in 2022 free ART tickets and in January 2024 adding metro buses within Arlington. In addition, money may be loaded to the card to pay the fare for rides on Metrorail. Claudia Pors, Transportation Communications Specialist, says “People like to see more attention paid to young people on transportation.”
Swanson Middle School was a big benefactor from this new policy. She explains that even if a school is served by an ART route, it doesn’t mean it serves all students who may live on arterial streets.
In addition, Hors explains the student may live too close for a school bus stop but along a dangerous route to walk or may live in an alternative school district and as an example attends the career center.
Pors says this effort is part of a county-wide plan to expand transportation options to a variety of different segments of the community. In 2022 they funded a short-term initiative to make more transportation options available to clients of the Department of Human Services.
“The iRide SmartTrip card will provide young people with greater access to safe, environmentally friendly transit options to go to school or other destinations.” Pors says buses and biking are good safe options to get kids around, a place to not worry about the stresses on the road—have a good time in a comfortable atmosphere. And at the same time it reduces emissions from personal vehicles.
Pors said, “We’ve seen an increase of rides taking place outside of school commute hours and weekends, which tells us that kids are going to all sorts of places beyond school, like jobs, extracurricular activities, shopping, social events and other destinations that are important to them.”
She says in 2023 Arlington Transit experienced an average of 10,000 student riders a month with ART routes 41, 45 and 75 the most heavily used with 3,200, 1,600 and 1,500 riders respectively. These routes service Wilson Boulevard/Clarendon Boulevard, Columbia Pike, Glebe Road and Carlyn Springs.
Pors indicates data will be collected monthly on student ridership on Metrobus routes which will provide a pattern of ridership by the summer of 2024.
The iRide SmartTrip card is available for every student enrolled in Arlington schools from kindergarten through high school. It may be purchased at any Commuter Store in Arlington or through the school’s Transportation Coordinator.
The agreement between Arlington County and WMATA to include Metrobuses on IRide cards was approved by the Arlington County Board in July 2023. The FY 2024 budget includes $360,000 in the County’s WMATA budget to reimburse Metrobus for student rides.