City of Sacramento and SacRT Student Fare-Free Transit Pass Program

June 24, 2019 General, SacRT in Community


SacRT has partnered with the City of Sacramento to offer free fare for students in grades K through 12 to ride SacRT buses and light rail vehicles. Students who either go to school within the City limits of Sacramento or reside within the City limits, but attend a school outside the City’s boundaries are eligible.

The Sacramento City Council approved a budget that includes $1 million for free fare for students on June 11, 2019. The City’s Student Free Fare Transit Pass program will provide over 100,000 students the opportunity to ride any of SacRT’s fixed-route or SmaRT Ride microtransit services at any time free of charge for an initial period of one year (from October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020). The City is the sponsor of the program, providing funding to SacRT for lost fare revenue.

The student free fare passes will be made available in the form of a sticker to be placed directly on the student’s school identification (ID) card, allowing schools to print and issue ID cards with the transit pass sticker already affixed to them.

In addition, SacRT is working with additional local jurisdictions to make the entire SacRT service area free for students in grades K through 12. Should the program be implemented throughout Sacramento County, an estimated 250,000 students would have the opportunity to ride for free. An initiative of this magnitude is expected to grow school attendance, leading to additional education funding from the state, while reducing congestion and helping to build future transit riders for life.

What are the program benefits?

There are several reasons to implement this initiative for youth living or attending school in Sacramento:

  • Ability for students in TK through 12 to have easy access to fare-free public transportation year-round
  • Eliminates obstacles for youth to getting to and from school, internships, and other enrichment activities
  • Provides equitable investment in receiving a good education
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion
  • Improves school attendance
  • Expands awareness and value of public transit

Who is eligible to ride for free?

This initiative will provide fare-free transit to youth in grades K-12 who live or attend school within the City of Sacramento. This program will also include youth experiencing homelessness and foster youth who reside in the City of Sacramento.

Are there any restrictions?

This initiative will provide for universal access (all day, any day of the week, all year during regular SacRT service hours). This includes access to buses, light rail and SmaRT Ride microtransit service.

How do I get the student pass?

Distribution of free-fare passes to all students is to be done at schools located within City of Sacramento boundaries. Schools that are outside the City limits, but have students who are residents of the City of Sacramento could also obtain stickers from SacRT. Students who are experiencing homelessness and/or a part of foster programs will also be allowed to participate in the free student pass program regardless of current residence address or school address. Stickers are attached to youth’s student ID and are good for one year.

When will the stickers be distributed?

Stickers will be distributed to students when student IDs are issued.

 What does the fare-free program cost?

The City of Sacramento has committed $1 million from the General Fund to support the program. SacRT estimates that, in the first year of the program, student ridership will be approximately 40,000 (an increase of 600%). SacRT will be able to absorb the increased ridership without additional costs.

Who can I contact if I have questions about the program?

For more information, please contact the Office of Councilmember Jay Schenirer – 916-808-7005, or