While universal fare-free transit has been a hot topic of conversation in the last couple of years, some transit agencies have found a promising middle ground providing free transit programs to youth. Fare-free transit programs for youth, including programs directly targeting high school and college students, have been around for decades, but in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, more agencies see the initiative as a way to introduce young residents to their local system and recoup ridership that has fallen since 2020, while school districts see the programs as a way to address operational challenges that also have been exacerbated since the pandemic.
While many Americans are currently discouraged from walking because their neighborhoods are not built for travel by foot, communities that facilitate walking may be the future of new development. A survey by GfK Research for Kaiser Permanente shows that Americans both know walking is a healthy activity and that many neighborhood do not facilitate walking. But other studies in Atlanta and Washington, DC, show that walkable communities are attracting the majority of new investment, even in one of the most car-oriented metro areas.
Walking has mental as well as physical health benefits. Children that walk or bike to school have improved concentration, and moderate physical activity can help keep older people mentally sharp. But new data from the CDC show that the elderly have a significantly higher prevalence of pedestrian fatalities than younger people.
While the federal Safe Routes to School program has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in communities throughout the U.S. on sidewalks, crossings, and education to improve safety and increase the number of children walking …