ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced the launch of a free, digital bus pass program for students in partnership with the Regional Transportation Agency of Central Maryland (RTA). This new digital bus pass program will enable students in the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) and Howard Community College (HCC) to access free RTA bus passes directly from their phones or smart devices using the Transit app.
Expanding access to public transportation is essential to our goal of increasing connectivity, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and creating more pathways for economic opportunity in our community. Through our free digital bus pass program for HCPSS and HCC students, our young people can better access RTA transit and travel to important destinations throughout Howard County.
County Executive Ball first launched the free RTA bus pass program for HCPSS middle and high school students in 2021. The following year, the program was expanded to students at Howard Community College to promote better access to transit services in the county. In total, more than 1,200 printed passes have been issued to students for free access to RTA transit over the last two years.
I am so pleased for the wonderful collaboration with RTA for bus passes being offered at no cost to students. Many of our high schools post RTA maps in school hallways so students may easily access this community resource for transportation home from extracurricular and other afterschool activities. We are greatly appreciative for the collaborative efforts of the County Executive and County leadership and staff so more students across all grade levels have greater access to the wonderful community services offered in our schools and through public transportation.
"The digital student bus pass program is a game changer for our students," said Dr. Willis, president of Howard Community College. "It will open up new possibilities that could not be realized before and give students access to free transportation right from their phones. We are committed to providing the best possible educational experiences for our students and this program is a major step in that direction."
With the launch of digital passes for the 2023-2024 school year, students can enjoy access to free bus passes right from their phone through the Transit app. The creation of digital student bus passes will improve access and participation in the program. Students who do not have access to a smart phone may still receive a free, printed bus pass from their school administrative offices after the start of school.
“The RTA encourages all students to explore our improved transit system. Thanks to our partnerships with local government and state and federal grant funding, we have replaced 25 buses and significantly improved the reliability of our fleet in 2023,” said Jason Quan, General Manager of RTA. “Those improvements combined with a focus on technology such as mobile payment options and real-time bus information has positioned the RTA to become a valuable transportation option for students and other riders. We welcome the next generation of transit riders to our system.”
For more information on how to register for digital student passes, please visit: https://www.transitrta.com/hcpss-student-bus-pass-program/.