KCATA’s plan to offer free bus rides to disadvantaged students is an inspired idea

The Kansas City Star

The Kansas City Area Transit Authority’s offer of unlimited free bus rides for metro-area high school pupils is an inspired way to knock down barriers that stunt student achievement and limit opportunity.

RideKC’s Student Pass program was announced last week. The transit agency’s pilot program runs through next July. Students from Kansas City Public Schools, Hickman Mills C-1 School District and Center School District will benefit.

The student mobility rate in each district is too high. So is the poverty level. For students living in impoverished neighborhoods, having unlimited access to classes, jobs, internships and extracurricular activities is paramount. The one-of-a-kind program should help.

Talent has no zip code, as KCATA CEO Robbie Makinen said.

“And it’s our job as your transit authority to open that lock on opportunity — to give people access, options and opportunity,” Makinen said.

A total of 12 schools will participate. And hundreds of deserving students will undoubtedly take advantage. The plan is a praiseworthy example of tackling issues that affect young people in the urban core with creative, collaborative approaches.

Expansion to charter schools is possible. So is spreading the outreach to schools north of the river and in Kansas City, Kansas, if successful. Let’s hope that this is just the start.