The Charleston Area Transportation Authority (CARTA) Board of Directors voted last week to implement a permanent policy allowing students in grades K-12 to ride at no cost as part of the system’s Free Student Fare initiative.

The fare structure had previously been in place as a pilot program since early 2019 and has seen monthly ridership surpass 7,000.

“The Free Student Fare initiative permanently eliminates a mobility barrier for students, sets the stage for the next generation of transit ridership and offers relief to parents whose children ride CARTA,” said CARTA Board of Directors Chairman Mike Seekings. “Getting to school, recreational activities or a part-time job is easier than ever for students and making those connections for free today allows kids to get comfortable with public transit.”

The Free Student Fare program is available to all public and private school students and applies to all CARTA services. Children under 5 also ride for free. Student IDs are recommended when boarding.

CARTA buses can be tracked in real-time by downloading the Transit App. Trips can be planned and details on CARTA routes and services can be found at RideCARTA.com. Questions regarding the program should be directed to CARTA marketing and communications manager Michelle Emerson, who can be reached at memerson@bcdcog.com or (843) 529-0333.