Monday, April 15, 2024

What’s not to like about free rides? Here’s a partnership that makes that possible

HR Transit representatives helped students get their freedom passes all set. HNNDaily Photo/courtesy of Hampton City Schools
HR Transit representatives helped students get their freedom passes all set. HNNDaily photo/Courtesy of Hampton City Schools

HAMPTON — If you need a way to get around for free —  and doesn’t involve your parents’ car — and you’re between ages 13 and 17, Hampton Roads Transit has your back.

HRT offers Student Freedom Pass, a year-round pass for those between those ages, and gives them unlimited use of HRT’s services.

The cities that HRT provides service to are: Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach.

The Freedom Pass

While the Freedom Passes have been around since August 2016, it wasn’t until recently that HRT started bringing the passes to the kids.

This replaced the need for them to come to a transit center to get their passes.

Hampton City Schools were the first of the schools to get a visit from HRT with their mobile ticketing machine.

In Hampton alone there have been more than 500 passes printed from this partnership.

“We wanted to encourage young people to learn how to use transit,” said Tiffany McClain, HRT’s public outreach and ridership coordinator.

Part of what HRT wanted to do was to give kids a way to get around without their parents’ help, McClain said.

McClain said sometimes parents have safety concerns about their child riding alone. She encourages these parents to take their children on a ride together to show them how to use the transit system.

HRT even has a Travel Training Program for any rider to participate in if they want to learn how to use the system.

Partnering with the Academy

HRT also partnered with The Academies of Hampton Coaches to bring the ticketing machines to the schools.

The coaches wanted to see how they could offer more kids the ability to use the service.

Coaches Sherry Hildebrandt from Bethel High and Christina Kerby from Hampton High both expressed gratitude for the program.

“I think it’s advantageous and convenient that HR Transit came to the schools,” Kerby said.

Hildebrandt said the purpose of the academy program is to prepare students to be college- and career-ready.

By using the transit service, students will have the ability to achieve those goals, Hildebrandt said.

There were 2,242 passes issued in 2017 and as of June 12 there have been 3,250 passes issued, McClain said.

Click here to find out how to get your own Freedom Pass. 

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