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Yesterday, the Metro Board of Directors approved a fare policy change, allowing all five-year-olds to ride Metro buses and trains for free.

In the past, Metro's fare prices had a loophole. One- to four-year-olds rode free, and students were eligible for discounted fares - but pre-kindergarten five-year-olds paid full fare. The loophole became even more prominent under Metro's recently approved student fareless pilot, which allows kids from ages 1-4 and 6-18+ to ride free - but not pre-K 5-year-olds.

According to Metro spokesperson Dave Sotero, the fare changes took effect immediately. Right now, Metro fare policy reads: “Children under age 6 may travel free with a fare-paying adult on bus or rail.” (Note that under COVID practices, Metro is currently not collecting bus fares - but only fares for Metro rail. Metro will resume bus fare collection on January 10, 2022.)

In practice, Metro was not strict about enforcing its rule that five-year-olds pay full fare. Metro staff sometimes suggested that parents not worry about the requirement, and just lie about a child's age. The new policy will allow the more diligent Metro-riding parents to save some money. It will make it cheaper and easier for kids (and their families) to take the bus to school on their first few weeks of kindergarten, before they can obtain a student pass.

Streetsblog L.A. first drew attention to this loophole in a 2018 post.

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