The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

Limited Kids Ride Free cards creates barriers for students

Staggered allocation of cards has impacted students who rely on the Metro to go to school. JR receives limited cards, slowing distribution.
Carmen Brito

Although current Kids Ride Free Cards (KRF) expired September 30, many students have been unable to receive cards for the 2023-24 school year. With much of the Jackson-Reed population dependent on public transportation for daily commutes, the annual problems with card distribution can be a big burden.

The Kids Ride Free transit subsidy program run by the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) only allocates 250 cards at a time. This procedure was developed by DDOT’s Transit Delivery Division and the School Transit team, in collaboration with other agencies. DDOT prefers that Jackson-Reed only request for a new set of cards when there are 10 cards or fewer left in supply, meaning staff has to work to distribute these cards quickly, so they are permitted to put in another order. These requests normally take from 28 to 48 hours to be fulfilled. 

“We wish we were allocated the amount of cards for every student,” Principal Brown said. 

According to a DDOT spokesperson, this limitation is put into place to help “mitigate losses” and they will “replenish upon request.” Those losses can occur because KRF cards have monetary value loaded in them, thus large amounts of undistributed cards can be expensive. 

This year, the Kids Ride Free card distribution falls under JR’s Strategy and Logistics Team. In order to receive a KRF card, students must place a request online and receive an email confirmation that their card is ready. Pickup is then after school in the atrium. This process was put in place to eliminate the long lines that occurred last year and also to meet DDOT’s expectation that cards are secured safely with an authorized staff member before fulfilling requests. 

Email confirmations are sent manually by JR’s Strategy and Logistics Assistant Lizabeth Garcia because her computer is the only one with the programming necessary for this task. Since the process is tedious, distribution can become delayed. 

“A lot of my friends that put in their request the first week of school have still not gotten their cards,” said Sirona Mayes, a junior.

Garcia understands this frustration and is feeling it herself.

“I just feel really bad because I know all the kids really just want to get their cards as soon as possible,” she said. 

On the form to request a card, students are asked whether they have ever received one before. As stated on the DDOT website, students that have never had a card before are given first priority when it comes to these requests. 

“I divided [the requests] into who said no, did all of those friends first, and now I have to go back to the beginning and do everyone that said yes,” Garcia said.

Jackson-Reed staff has asked about a better system, but the only solution given involved  manual entry that Garcia thinks “would take twice as long.” 

Principal Brown would like to get to a place where kids could be given their cards before the beginning of the school year. Or, cards could be distributed by last name and grade level. 

It’s also possible that KRF cards could move digital. 

Our partners at the Office of the Chief Technology Officer are working with The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to explore the option of loading the KRF fare product onto electronic devices.  We are hoping for a pilot of that initiative in the coming months,” a DDOT spokesperson said.

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