The Alexandria Transit Company has created a $65 pilot student pass called the Swag Tag, which will allow Alexandria middle and high school students unlimited DASH rides from May 21 through Sept. 2.
“The ATC has been interested in developing a summer student pass program to encourage students of all ages to ride DASH as often as they would like,” said DASH Marketing and Communications Manager Allyson Teevan via e-mail. “We wanted to make the program very affordable as an incentive to get students out of their parents’ cars and on to a DASH bus.”
The ATC worked with members of the Superintendent’s Student Leadership Committee, which is comprised of T.C. Williams High School students. According to TC Social Studies Department Chair Molly Freitag, students first raised the issue three years ago.
Minnie Howard Assistant Principal Michael Cohen, faculty sponsor of the SSLC, said via telephone that the group formed a DASH subcommittee that met with DASH and sought support from the superintendent, Central Office and the School Board.
Teevan said that the program allows students “access to summer jobs, shopping, movies, catching a bite to eat with friends, etc.” From May 21 to May 31, DASH offered an “early bird special” during which students could purchase passes for $50.
Although the cost may be an impediment to some Alexandria City Public School students, over 50 percent of whom qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, the Swag Tag is deeply subsidized, according to Teevan. It allows students to ride any DASH bus for approximately $0.62 per day.
The program may continue in the fall. “We may offer a similar monthly Swag Tag at the same price as the regular monthly pass [$35], but marketed specifically to students,” said Teevan. “We will work with the schools to evaluate the success of the Swag Tag and discuss other joint efforts to encourage more DASH ridership by our City school students.”
The tags can be purchased at the Old Town Transit Shop, the T.C. Williams High School King Street and Minnie Howard campuses, Hammond Middle School and George Washington Middle School.