JANESVILLE, Wis. — Students in Janesville can now ride public transit for free.

What You Need To Know

  • Starting this school year, Janesville students get free fares on public transportation

  • Previously, like many public transit systems, students got reduced fares

  • Before the pandemic, students took an average of 45,000 to 50,000 reduced rate rides per year

Previously, students could get reduced rates on public transportation in Janesville, not unlike many other cities in Wisconsin.

“We were averaging about 45,000 to 50,000 student rides in previous calendar years, particularly before the pandemic,” said Rebecca Smith, director of Janesville Transit System (JTS).

Starting this school year, the rides for Janesville students are free.

“Students have to just show their student ID card and they can board any city bus any time we’re in service,” she said.

They’re also adding more bus routes at the times kids need them most.

“We can capture that ridership peak in the morning with an additional four buses on the road, and we can capture that ridership after school with an additional nine buses on the road,” Smith said.  

Edgar Alonso has been driving for JTS for 17 years. Every year, he said he looks forward to school starting again.

“I used to drive 60 kids in the morning during school time, so I’m expecting more than that,” he said.

He gets to know the students who take his bus, and although he’s hesitant to admit it, he said he does develop favorites.

“They are funny,” he said. “They’re kids, they behave like kids. So they keep you on your toes.”

Students don’t even need to be coming to or from school to utilize the free rides. They can be an opportunity for young people to get to work, or just spend time with their friends.

“Parents can help their students get jobs, go to the mall, head to the library, do other fun things around town at any time, and now, those rides are free,” Smith said.

Smith said she expects this year to eclipse that 50,000 student rides per year now that fares are free.