Callum’s report: New program offers free transit for San Diegans leaving foster care
Young adults in or just exiting the foster care system can ride bus and rail lines throughout San Diego County for free starting July 1.
A new initiative by the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System and North County Transit District seeks to aid these residents as they transition to independent living. The pilot program is set to end at the end of 2023.
The program, called PRONTO Extend, is available to all former and current foster young adults ages 18 to 24. It comes as ridership nears pre-COVID-19 levels and gas prices continue to soar.
“Free transportation to school or jobs is an important stepping stone to help them succeed,” said Nathan Fletcher, board chair of MTS and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, in a press statement.
About 77 percent of foster youth in California want to attend college, but by age 21, less than 25 percent are able to enroll due to financial constraints, according to a 2018 study by The University of Chicago. Roughly a quarter of state’s former foster care youth experience homelessness.
The program is similar to the recently launched Youth Opportunity Pass, which offers free transportation to San Diegans under the age of 19. Individuals must have the PRONTO app or card to be eligible for either program.
To qualify for PRONTO Extend, riders can apply at sdmts.com/PRONTO-Extend or send a letter addressed to PRONTO Extend Eligibility to 100 16th St., San Diego CA 92101 or fax it to 844-299-6369.