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School Transit Subsidy Program

Photo of a sample DC One Card

The School Transit Subsidy Program offers free or reduced fares for District students who use Metrobus, the DC Circulator, or Metrorail to travel to and from school and school-related activities.  The program is available to students enrolled in DC public, public charter, and private schools.  The program relies on an electronic pass that is loaded onto a student’s DC One Card.

Kids Ride Free

The Kids Ride Free program allows students to ride for free on Metrobus, the DC Circulator, and Metrorail within the District to get to school and school-related activities.  The program uses an electronic Kids Ride Free pass that is loaded onto students’ DC One Cards.  Students must be under 22 years old and live in the District to be eligible. To obtain the Kids Ride Free pass, students need to be enrolled in a DC public school, public charter school, or a private school and have their current DC One Card.                                                    

Please note that private school students are eligible for the free bus benefit, but are not eligible for the free rail benefit.


September 2 Advisory: DDOT has learned that the Metro fare system is responding slower than expected in delivering Kids Ride Free Passes as school starts this year.  Due to this issue, the KRF-Pass may not activate when students first tap their DC One Cards in the system. 

Metro advises that students continue to tap their DC One Cards on the fare gate or fare box to activate their KRF-Pass as they travel to and from school.  If the student uses the rail system, the KRF-Pass can be activated by tapping the DC One Card again at the same station several hours after first tapping their DC One Card.  If the student rides the bus, the KRF-Pass can be activated by tapping the DC One Card three days after the first tapping their DC One Card.

During this process, bus operators and station managers are required to allow students to ride for free if students’ KRF-Passes are not functioning on their DC One Cards. 

If you would like to ensure that the KRF-Pass is successfully loaded, one tip is to take the following steps:

  1. Tap your DC One Card on a fare vending machine found in any Metrorail station.  If there is a negative balance, bring it up to $0. 
  2. After several hours, or the next day, tap your DC One Card again on a fare vending machine at the same Metrorail station to activate your KRF-Pass. 
  3. Check with the station manager to see if the KRF-Pass has been successfully loaded or log-in to your account at dconecard.dc.gov to check the status of your KRF-Pass. This activity can be done on the weekends to ensure the KRF-Pass is ready to use for school on Mondays.

Important changes to the program for the 2016-2017 school year

1.     New Metrobus hours.  We are removing the time-of-day and day-of-week restrictions on bus travel.  Students will be able to take a free bus trip all day, every day to get to school and school-related activities within the District. 

2.     Signing-up for Kids Ride Free.  We are no longer requiring students to sign-up for the program online.  Instead, the electronic Kids Ride Free pass will be issued to all eligible students who are enrolled in school and have a DC One Card. Note: This new process does not apply to private school students. Private school students must sign-up to get the Kids Ride Free on Bus pass at dconecard.dc.gov.

3.     New website.  We are upgrading the dconecard.dc.gov website on August 15 to allow students to check the status of their Kids Ride Free pass as well as their stored value balance.

Tips for picking-up the Kids Ride Free pass

Two weeks before school starts:

  • Enroll in school.  Students should make sure that they are enrolled in a DC public school or a public charter school.
  • Find your DC One Card.  
  • Students should make sure to use their current DC One Cards.  If they don’t have a DC One Card, they can get one at a DC One Card center or at their school. See dconecard.dc.gov for center locations.
  • ​Students who request a DC One Card after school starts will have the electronic Kids Ride Free pass issued to that new DC One Card automatically.
  • Check your balances.  Students should pay off any negative fare balances on their DC One Card.  You can check your balance by tapping your Card on a fare vending machine at a rail station.

On the first day of school:       

  • Tap your DC One Card.  Students should tap their DC One Card on a bus fare box or a rail fare gate within the District of Columbia to activate the Kids Ride Free pass and take a free trip.

Students who have a DC One Card and are enrolled in school will be able to travel for free starting August 8, 2016 to reflect the early start date for some schools. 

This flyer and these frequently asked questions and FAQs in Spanish explain the changes in greater detail.  DDOT’s customer service staff are available at (202) 673-1740 to answer any questions.

Discounted Student Transit Passes

Students may also purchase the following discounted student transit passes at a Metro Sales office or online at wmata.com:

  • 30-day pass for $30
  • 10-trip bus pass for $7.50
  • 10-trip rail for $9.50

These passes are electronically loaded onto students’ DC One Cards after signing-up for the program at dconecard.dc.gov.  Students must be under 22 years old, live in the District and be enrolled at a District school to be eligible.

Contact Us
For additional information about the School Transit Subsidy Program, please find more details below or call (202) 673-1740.