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Free Rides for Students

Two complementary programs offer free transit to encourage bus ridership as students progress through their educational experiences in Orange County.

The Youth Ride Free program allows those ages 6 to 18 to ride for free on safe, clean reliable OC Buses while taking cars off the road and reducing pollution. OCTA was the first large transit agency in the region to offer free bus rides to all youth ages 6 to 18 on an ongoing basis.

The College Pass, a shared-cost program that allows enrolled community-college students to travel free on any OC Bus fixed route, helps students access higher education, employment and recreational opportunities across Orange County. All nine Orange County community colleges participate.

As a result of the program, thousands of full-time, part-time and continuing education students enjoy a free, comfortable ride while avoiding parking costs and hassles and contributing to a cleaner, healthier environment.

In many cases, the program provides opportunities to disadvantaged students to help them attend classes and achieve their dreams.

Environmental Benefits

OCTA's commitment has resulted in:

  • The Youth Ride Free and College Pass programs reduce air pollution by taking cars off the road and have successfully encouraged students to use public transportation.
  • Funding at some colleges is provided by Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (LCTOP), a part of the state Cap-and-Trade Program; the Mobile Source Air Pollution Review Committee (MSRC); and student funds.
  • In a survey of Santa Ana College participants, 88% said they had not used campus parking since getting the pass, thereby reducing VMT and emissions.
  • The College Pass Program was recognized for providing Orange County’s 120,000 community college students with free access to bus service, as well as reducing transportation costs by more than $10 million and carbon dioxide emissions by more than 4,000 tons.

Additional Resources

The Youth Ride Free program, which allows youth ages 6 to 18 to ride OC Bus for free to school, sports, work, and other activities, has been extended to eligible OC ACCESS riders.
The popular promotional pass that allows Orange County youth to ride free is now permanent, making OCTA the first large transit agency in the region to offer free bus rides to all youth ages 6 to 18 on an ongoing basis.
For the past dozen years, the Orange County Business Council (OCBC) has hosted the Turning Red Tape into Red Carpet Awards to recognize the efforts of public agencies that cut through red tape and eliminate barriers to economic growth.