Virginia Beach, Hampton Roads youth can ride transit for free is your source for free local news and information in Virginia Beach

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Young bus riders in Virginia Beach and other Hampton Roads cities are gaining some freedom this month.

Hampton Roads Transit launched a “Student Freedom Pass” today that will allow teens and kids who are 17 years old and younger to ride buses, the light rail and ferries for free. This is the first time the transit agency has offered free fares to young customers.

Currently, teens and kids who are 17 and younger pay half-rate, or 75 cents one way, and $1.75 a day. The pilot program is designed to encourage young customers to use public transportation, according to a release.

“We wanted to increase ridership among that age group,” Tiffany McClain, public outreach coordinator for the agency, said in a phone interview. “Also, if we teach people to use transit now, they become adults who know how to use transit. Even if they move away from Hampton Roads, they know how to use transit in other cities as well.”

On average, 55,000 passengers board Hampton Roads Transit daily. Young customers account for just 2 percent of this amount, or 1,100 customers, according to McClain.

To qualify for a free ride, eligible customers must apply for a Student Freedom Pass. Otherwise, they will pay the half-fare. If they board with an adult who pays normal price, they will ride free.

Operators may require proof of age. Valid forms include an elementary, middle, or high-school picture ID, a Department of Motor Vehicles identification card, or a Hampton Roads Transit Youth ID. Student Freedom Passes can be obtained at any transit center in Norfolk, Hampton, Newport News and Virginia Beach.