APS Student Fare Free Program FAQ

ArlCo_SmarTrip Card for Teens_CS6Free Ride Benefit for APS Students on ART buses

Arlington Transit has made all travel for APS students on ART buses free with a registered iRide SmarTrip card. Students with existing iRide SmarTrip cards can automatically participate in the fare free program and do not need to perform any additional steps. If a student would like the option to participate in the fare free program but does not have an iRide SmarTrip card, they will need to either contact the Transportation Coordinator (TC) at their school or visit a Commuter Store. For additional details, please see below for frequently asked questions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Who is eligible to participate?

All students are eligible, but the program is mainly aimed at middle and high school students. APS recommends that elementary students and families follow the guidelines provided by Arlington County’s Child and Family Services Division. Any child 8 years or younger should not be left alone for any period of time and therefore must be accompanied by an adult to ride public transportation.

When can I ride for free?

Students with iRide SmarTrip cards can ride any ART bus route anytime of the week. Use ART RealTime or Transit App to find out when the next ART bus will arrive at your stop.

Can I also ride Metrobus for free?

No, the fare-free program is only valid on ART buses. Stored value can be added to the card for use on Metrobuses, Metrorail, and other transit agencies that accept SmarTrip cards.

I already have an iRide SmarTrip card from last year. Can I ride ART for free?

Yes, the free ride benefit will be available to all APS students with existing iRide SmarTrip cards.

If I don’t have an iRide SmarTrip card, where can I get one?

There are two options available for a student to acquire an iRide SmarTrip card. The iRide SmarTrip card is free.

  1. Contact the school’s Transportation Coordinators (TC). The TC will assist with applying for an iRide SmarTrip card. TCs will also distribute the cards to students. Allow for a one week turn around.
  2. Students may visit a Commuter Store located at the Ballston Metro, Crystal City Metro, Shirlington Bus Station, Rosslyn Metro, Pentagon Metro or the Mobile Commuter Store.

Does the iRide SmarTrip card need to be registered?

Yes, the iRide SmarTrip card will need to be registered to the student. If the student participated in the Student Free Fare Pilot during school year 2021-22, please see the FAQ below.

Why do I need to register the iRide SmarTrip card?

The iRide SmarTrip card must be registered in the event the card is ever lost, stolen, or damaged and a replacement needs to be issued. A registered iRide card can also be loaded with additional funds so students can ride Metrobuses, Metrorail, and other transit agencies that accept SmarTrip cards.

I participated in the Student Free Fare Pilot during school year 2021-22, is my iRide SmarTrip card eligible for the free ride benefit?

Yes, all iRide SmarTrip cards issued last year during the Student Free Fare Pilot can begin to ride ART buses for free beginning Monday August 29, 2022.

I participated in the Student Free Fare Pilot during school year 2021-22, can I register my iRide SmarTrip card?

No, at this time students that received iRide SmarTrip cards during the Student Free Fare Pilot cannot register those cards.

If I lose my iRide card, may I get another one?

Students may visit any Commuter Store to get a replacement iRide card for a $2.00 replacement fee.

If I am new to public transportation, how do I ride the ART bus?

Please reference the Arlington Transit page, How to Ride for planning a trip, locating bus stops, getting on and off the bus as well as courtesy and safety tips.

Are there any ART routes that support specific APS schools?

The ART bus routes throughout Arlington are designed to address the public transportation needs of all Arlington residents. Please reference the Arlington Transit page, How to Ride for Students for APS schools that are located along specific routes.