Youths 6 to 18 years old will get free rides on Orange County public buses for the next six months in an effort to encourage another generation to use public transportation, officials said Tuesday.

The Youth Ride Free Pass allows youths to ride any Orange County Transportation Authority bus without paying a fare through February. OCTA officials say 520,000 youths will be eligible to ride free.

The bus rides will be funded by a $2 million grant through California Climate Investments program, according to OCTA spokesman Eric Carpenter.

“Allowing our youth in Orange County to ride the OC Bus for free will encourage a new generation of riders to discover the convenience and benefits of public transportation,” said Andrew Do, the chairman of OCTA and the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

“This program is good for our community, for our schools, and for our economy.”

The program will also help reduce traffic congestion and air pollution, officials said.

OCTA officials were working with school districts in the county to hand out bus passes.

OCTA officials initially considered the free bus passes for youths up to 13, but then later decided earlier this year to extended it to high school students too.

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