EXPRESS to the rescue – Free bus rides for students

Calista Ancog, Editor In Chief

Nationwide schools are suffering from a bus driver shortage. Routes are being cut, waits are getting longer, and many students are walking to school. 

Hawai’i, however, is working hard to overcome this shortage by launching the EXPRESS (Expanding Ridership to Educate Students in Schools) program. EXPRESS will provide any 9-12 grade student with a HIDOE student ID number a free bus pass, encouraging them to use public transportation. 

The hope is that more high school students will choose to take the city bus instead of school buses so that the traditional yellow and black buses can be redirected toward the elementary and middle schools. 

The application is currently open and will remain open until the end of the school year, May 23. The passes will last until July 31, 2023. 

“Students who choose to participate in EXPRESS gain access to means of transportation that isn’t limited to school transportation; they are free to use their pass as needed.” DOE Student Transportation Serv­ices Administrator Emily Evans said in a Star Advertiser article.

For high school students, this means that they will be able to ride The Bus for free when going to work or to the mall to hang out with friends. 

Many students who travel frequently on The Bus can end up spending $40 a month, and that’s only if they have a Holo card. If they don’t, students can end up paying much more. 

Senior Xiaonan Trihn, who rides the bus daily says that “the free pass would allow [her] to save up the money that [she] would normally spend riding the bus for college.” 

Students who do end up applying for the new pass should note that they may only have either a school bus pass or the free county bus pass. The school will require them to return the school pass in the event they receive a county pass. If you have already paid for a second-quarter bus pass, refunds can be made, but should only be requested after receiving the county bus pass to avoid early deactivation. 

Link to application: