HRT Assists with the Back to School Hustle

It’s here, the busiest season of all, back to school. For those with kids, sleeping in, hanging out and no activities are replaced with alarm clocks and a full schedule.

Life is busy already, so why let the grind of back to school get in your way?

Hampton Roads Transit has a wonderful program for youth to save parent’s time, money and unwanted stress for all those before and after school programs, educational opportunities, jobs and recreational activities.

The Student Freedom Pass is an annual fare card that offers Hampton Roads youth 13-17 years old unlimited free rides on light rail, bus, and ferry. HRT wanted to teach young people in our community how to travel independently using public transportation. The goal was to create a new generation of public transit riders by encouraging people to choose transit at a young age and as part of their future transportation choices. We also knew it would be a lifesaver to the parents of the youth who would no longer have to stress their child’s transportation needs.

This program has affected the agency and the community in a positive way. Since March 1, 2017, it has increased ridership by 239,241 trips. Many families chose to use transit for the first time, and existing customers started taking trips that they would have not taken. The agency built strong partnerships with community organizations, recreation centers, and libraries. Our biggest partner is the school administrators at public, private, and alternative schools. Teachers are taking classes of students on field trips using transit. We took part in over twenty community events, and partnered with the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice and the Norfolk Sheriff’s Department for a city-wide event to promote the new program.

We knew we needed to do more than just put a free fare card in the hands of young people. We needed to teach them how to travel safely and independently. We created an education piece to teach them how to plan a trip, use a fare box, and stay safe.

Hampton Roads Transit’s services support 20,300 jobs and $548 million in employment income across Hampton Roads. Our mission is to connect Hampton Roads through high quality, safe, efficient, and sustainable transportation services. Our vision however, is to be a valued regional partner that drives prosperity and makes life better for our community. We are always looking for ways to improve our transit services so we can better serve the public. This program has done that.

HRT is honored to give back to the community by providing safe transportation to our youth and providing parents peace of mind.

Obtaining a Student Freedom Pass

  • Children ages 13-17 can obtain a Student Freedom Pass by visiting to fill out the online application.
  • Once the application is submitted, they will need to visit one of the following transit centers with proof of age to have a photo fare card created.
  • That’s it. Then the child may ride transit for free. Passes will need to be renewed at the end of the calendar year.