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In an effort to give Bay area students and teens more accessibility to public transit, Escambia County Area Transit (ECAT) announced today the system’s Summer Wheels Pass will now be complimentary and available to area youth 18 years and under.

The annual initiative, which started in 2013, historically cost $25 and was offered to students 17 and under. The decision to update the pass was sparked by Escambia County commissioners as an incentive for area youth.

The Summer Wheels Pass is valid from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and pass holders can enjoy unlimited rides to any destination ECAT offers.

According to ECAT representatives, this expanded eligibility will provide those under 18 with access to transportation and increased independence during the summer months.

“We are thrilled to have worked closely with the ECAT team during the launch of the 2016 Summer Wheels Pass,” said Leslie Hunter-Huff, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of the Emerald Coast in Escambia County. “This pass is such a great addition to the local community. With the increased accessibility to public transit, area youth now have the opportunity to travel wherever their summer adventures take them.”

The updated pass also opens the door for a new generation of ECAT riders who will find technology upgrades while traveling, such as onboard Wi-Fi and a real-time bus locator app that allows riders to streamline their commute and stay connected.

The pass enhancements launch in conjunction with ECAT’s Seasonal Beach Trolley, which offers free service to the public from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Provided by The Santa Rosa Island Authority (SRIA), the free trolley services allow riders to travel to 35 stops along the beach.

“We are always working to enhance rider experience, and this is an exciting time for the ECAT system,” said Tonya Ellis, Director of Marketing and Community Relations for ECAT. “Our team is thrilled to introduce the updated Summer Wheels Pass at a time when ECAT is launching so many new services, including technology advancements, the free Seasonal Beach Trolley, and several route upgrades.”

On April 1, modifications to Routes 41 and 42 were introduced, which included increased frequency, more buses, and new service areas. The Summer Wheels Pass will allow young riders to enjoy this expanded service free of charge.

Summer Wheels Passes are available at ECAT’s main office, located at 1515 W. Fairfield Drive. Applicants must present photo ID. For more information visit www.GoECAT.com.

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