05.11.2023 | News Release
“I am thrilled that the Youth Opportunity Passes are fully funded through June 2024,” said SANDAG and San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Nora Vargas. "They are not just a free ride. This program brings security and stability to the lives of students and youth and removes barriers so they can have access to education, work, and recreational activities that they would not have otherwise. I am committed to expanding this program to those age 24 and under.”
SANDAG’s YOP gives young people 18 and under access to unlimited free rides on the bus, Trolley, COASTER, and SPRINTER with a Youth PRONTO account.
SANDAG, together with Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) and North County Transit District (NCTD), have distributed more than 40,000 PRONTO cards around the San Diego region and more 150,000 Youth PRONTO accounts are currently active.
“In the first year of the Youth Opportunity Pass program, the estimated number of youth riders using MTS services has more than tripled, from just over 9,000 riders per month last April to an estimated 32,000 youth riders this April,” said MTS Acting Board Chair and San Diego Councilmember, District 3 Stephen Whitburn. “It’s an astounding accomplishment in year one of the program. These riders are important to the prosperity of our transit system, and we’re proud to be a vital bridge between youth and the opportunities that will build a brighter future for them.”
In early 2022, SANDAG committed to hitting the ground running with a series of visionary initiatives like YOP. Since the start of YOP, youth around the San Diego region took more than six million rides. Results from a recent SANDAG survey show 92% of youth ride public transit when compared to ridership before the program began, and 80% of those surveyed plan to continue using public transit as adults.
“The Youth Opportunity Pass has provided youth throughout our region with expanded mobility options and is helping to create transit riders for life,” said NCTD Board of Directors Chair Jewel Edson. “NCTD has seen a significant increase in new youth riders since the program launched and is excited to partner with SANDAG and MTS on the extension of this important benefit for our region’s youth.”
In 2022, YOP was funded through a combination of federal funds—$6.13 million allocated through SANDAG and $1.5 million through the County of San Diego. In FY 2024, SANDAG has committed to extending the program with an additional $6.5 million.
Learn more about the Youth Opportunity Pass program and where to pick up a free youth PRONTO card.