WMATA struggles to supply Kids Ride Free cards

Samara Cuaresma

Wilson is in the process of supplying students with new Kids Ride Free cards from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), which allow students to take public transportation at no personal cost. 

In order to receive a card, students must be DC residents and attend a DC school. The cards also expire yearly, so students must qualify every year to receive a new one. 

Wilson students must fill out an online request form, and once they’re notified that their card is ready, new Kids Ride Free cards can be picked up after school. WMATA noted a 7-10 day lag period to allow for card distribution, but many students have been waiting a month or more already. 

Sophomore Sophia Bagnoli filled out the request form in the first week of school. “I haven’t gotten an email back,” she explained while waiting in line after school. It was her first time trying to talk to the administrators in person since she needed to use her card in the next few days. 

For students who have lost their cards, the wait is even longer. “The administrators just told me that when they were done with the people who needed cards, they would start addressing the kids who lost theirs or had problems with them,” said freshman Ingrid Dirren, who lost her card.

Students have been told that WMATA hasn’t been sending a sufficient number of cards, only a couple hundred at a time-not nearly enough for Wilson’s almost 2000 kids. 

This gap in access to free transportation could pose a problem for kids who depend on public transportation to get to Wilson. Freshman Adam Stomberg used his card every day to get to school. Since he says he’s “had to use the bus which is a lot slower and less reliable.” Stromberg opted for the bus as drivers tend to have relaxed enforcement of the use of Kids Ride Free cards. Students are also still able to use the Metro if they show their expired cards to the employees. There are still ways to freely use public transportation as a student, but, Stomberg explained, “it’s a big hassle.” 

Although DCPS tried to combat the problem by giving students a 30 day grace period to replace cards, which didn’t expire until September 30, there are still many students left in a lurch.•