DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — “This is a really simple solution to a potential barrier that young people have in their lives,” Lacie Elzy said.

Lacie Elzy, with Decatur Public Transit believes that solution is free bus service to school for more than 2,100 students.

“I think it would be good because what if people don’t got the money to get on the bus,” Terrell Clark said.

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting the council approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Decatur Public School District that allows all DPS high school students to travel anytime on the city buses for free as long as they have a valid DPS school ID. If approved by the DPS School Board, the district would pay Decatur Public Transit System biannually for bus rides.

Currently, all high school students ride for free during school hours, but pay to ride after hours. Decatur Public Transit System’s new agreement would change that.

“Them to pay us, the school district twice a year and in return, Decatur Public School, high school students will get to ride the transit system for free any time, with no limitations, just by showing their school ID,” Elzy said.

WCIA caught up with Terrell Clark who was waiting at the bus stop. He is in high school and pays to ride public buses after school hours. When we asked how he would feel riding for free, he liked the idea and says he would feel safer on the bus if more of the riders were students.

Students get fare tickets from the district to ride during school hours.

“Sometimes you’ll see a child on the bus, like you’ll see 13 year old’s, 12 year old’s, that’s a risk.
It might be a different person sitting there that wouldn’t feel safe, personally I feel I would be safe,” Clark said.

Elzy says students would also be able to use the bus system during the summer, free of charge.

“If we can do something simple like taking away a ticket and a fare for children and allowing them to ride with a school id, which they have to have anyways, it’s just a simple solution to equity,” Elzy said.

City officials hope this new plan helps lift one burden off students shoulders as they navigate getting around.