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Sunday, August 9, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane Public School students to get free bus passes this summer

UPDATED: Tue., May 21, 2019

Riders catch an STA bus at Sprague Avenue and Helena Street  on April 2, 2019. Citing social distancing and the safety of drivers, the transit agency is not charging any fare during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Riders catch an STA bus at Sprague Avenue and Helena Street on April 2, 2019. Citing social distancing and the safety of drivers, the transit agency is not charging any fare during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane Public School students will soon have a way to use many of the city’s free services, regardless of what neighborhood they live in after the Spokane City Council approved almost $50,000 to fund free bus passes.

City Spokeswoman Marlene Feist said the program was an initiative from Mayor David Condon’s administration to help children whose parents might not be able to drive them places during the day to access free city services, such as swimming pools, the library’s summer reading program, community centers and parks.

The free bus ride program will run from June to September. It also includes free roller skate rentals from the Numerica Skate Ribbon and Skyride feature in Riverfront Park.

Library Spokeswoman Amanda Donovan said students can pick up a summer youth pass from any of the city’s six librarybranches with a student ID number and their birth date.

Donovan said she hoped the free bus passes would help children participate in the library’s summer reading programs and attend free events. This year’s summer reading program is space- and science- themed and the library will host a planetarium show, astronaut-themed crafts and other educational events.

Only Spokane Public School students are eligible right now, but depending on how many children use the program, they may open it to children outside of the district.

“Right now we’re just excited to see how it goes, and how many kids use it,” she said.

After the Spokane Parks and Recreation board made swimming pools free last year, usage rose 60% across the city. Jason Conley, executive officer for Spokane Parks and Recreation, said. Going to parks, pools and splash pads may be harder for children with two working parents or no family vehicle.

“If you’re not able to walk or ride a bike to the nearest park, you might not have been able to access those services,” he said.

He hopes the bus passes will ensure everyone has access to the city’s free services and also teach younger generations the value of public transportation.

Families still need to sign up for a splash pass separately, which they can do on the city’s website.

The bus passes will be available starting June 13 and will be valid until Sept. 15.

This article was changed on May 21 to reflect that students can use their birthday and ID number instead of just a student ID to get a bus pass from the library.

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