Youth can ride Yolobus for free through 2021

Photo by Crystal Apilado/Winters Express

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Yolo County youths will continue to ride for free on Yolobus through the end of next year.

The Yolo County Transportation District board of directors voted unanimously on Monday to extend the “Youth Ride Free” program to Dec. 31, 2021, offering unlimited free rides to youths ages 18 and younger throughout its service area.

“Kids can ride at no cost to a large number of destinations, including stores, shopping centers, libraries, parks, places of employment, youth internship sites, schools (when they are open to students again), parks, recreational facilities, places like Old Sacramento, the State Capitol and anywhere else that Yolobus fixed-route, microtransit, and paratransit bus service travels,” according to a Yolobus press release.

Yolobus will make up the estimated $30,000 in lost fare revenue through funds received via the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act.

Prior to COVID-19, the Youth Ride Free program had been tremendously successful, with youth ridership jumping by 189 percent between September 2019 and March 2020, according to Janice Bryan, the transportation district’s deputy director of finance.

Ridership jumped from 25,548 to 73,837 and was poised to hit 127,000 rides over 12 months, she said.

Then the pandemic arrived.

Now Yolobus is focused on getting those riders back.

“We want to expand our outreach to youth throughout the Yolobus service area and let them know that Yolobus is a safe and dependable way to get around,” said Executive Director Terry Bassett.

“Not only will the free rides save money for the kids, it will also save parents from shuttle service duty,” he noted.

Safety measures in place to protect youths and other bus riders from COVID-19 include:

  • Face coverings are required for both passengers and drivers.
  • While supplies last, there are limited quantities of extra face coverings available on the buses for passengers who do not come with their own face covering. But Yolobus strongly advises passengers to bring their own face coverings, as supplies are limited.
  • All employees have their temperatures taken before they can begin their shift.
  • All buses have a sneeze barrier that separates the drivers from the passengers.
  • Hand sanitizing devices are now installed on the entire fleet.
  • Buses placed into service are sanitized daily and sometimes even more frequently.
  • Drivers have been instructed to wipe down “bus touch surfaces” like grab rails and stanchions at the end of each bus trip.

In an effort to provide social distancing, Yolobus asks riders to honor a limit of no more than 15 passengers on low-floor buses, no more than 26 passengers on MCI highway coaches, and no more than three passengers on paratransit vehicles.

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