Youth Ride Free with PRONTO
All riders 18 & under will be able to ride MTS and North County Transit District (NCTD) services for FREE with a Youth PRONTO app account, or a Youth PRONTO card. The Youth Opportunity Pass is a pilot program, sponsored by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) and County of San Diego, through June 30, 2023.
To be eligible for the Youth Opportunity Pass, riders 18 & under must have a Youth PRONTO app account, or a PRONTO Youth card, and travel with proof of eligibility. (Kids 5 & under ride MTS and NCTD free at all times, and don’t need a card or proof of eligibility.)
You can request to change to a reduced fare card online using our form below.
Read on below for additional information and frequently asked questions.
Have questions or comments about the Youth Opportunity Pass pilot program? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for any program feedback.
Youth who already have an existing PRONTO app account or card do not need to take any additional steps to receive free transit. Starting May 1, when you tap or scan your youth PRONTO card or app, your ride will automatically be registered as a free ride under the Youth Opportunity Pass program. Make sure you tap or scan your PRONTO card or app on a validator every trip you take!
Youth who do not have an existing Youth account with PRONTO can participate in the Youth Opportunity Pass program in a few simple steps:
- Download the PRONTO app on your Apple or Android device.
- Create a virtual card.
- Convert your card to a Youth account online, over the phone (619-595-5636) or in -person (MTS Transit Store, NCTD Customer Service Centers). (Accounts converted online will be processed the next business day.)
- Get a PRONTO card at any Trolley ticket machine or retail outlet (one-time $2 fee, plus a minimum load of $3 at ticket machines, and $5 at retail outlets)
- Convert your card to a Youth account online, over the phone (619-595-5636) or in -person (MTS Transit Store, NCTD Customer Service Centers)
Now that you have your account set-up, read on for more information on using PRONTO, tips for riding and more FAQs about the program.
The Youth Opportunity Pass program covers free transit rides on all fixed-route MTS buses and Trolleys, and the North County Transit District’s FLEX, BREEZE, SPRINTER and COASTER.
The Youth Opportunity Pass is not valid on MTS Access or NCTD LIFT paratransit services.
No, each rider must have his/her own PRONTO app account or card. Multiple riders cannot use the same PRONTO app or card.
No, your school ID is only used to verify your eligibility as a Youth rider, you must have a Youth account on the PRONTO app, or a Youth PRONTO card to access free rides. If you do not have a Youth PRONTO app account or card, you may be required to pay the standard one-way youth fare ($1.25 each trip).
Accepted forms of eligibility include: current school picture ID; OR a valid government-issued photo ID with birthdate (i.e. driver’s license or real ID); OR birth certificate.
For the duration of the YOP pilot program (May 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023), MTS Code Compliance Inspectors will also accept photos or digital copies of current, valid photo ID forms for youth while traveling on board (i.e. current school picture, driver’s license, real ID, passport, etc.) (Riders verifying eligibility in-person should bring original / hard copies.)
Alternatively, you can get a Youth photo ID PRONTO card at the MTS Transit Store and all NCTD Customer Service Centers ($7 fee).
If the pilot program is not extended beyond June 30, 2023, normal Youth fares will be reinstated. All Youth who wish to continue to receive discounted transit rates will need to extend their eligibility (based on birthdate) at the MTS Transit Store or NCTD Customer Service Center prior to July 31, 2023 (or your PRONTO account will automatically revert to the Adult fare category).
Once you have your PRONTO app or card set to a Youth category (see ‘Getting Started with YOP’), have your card or app ready when you get to the Trolley station or bus stop. Find a validator (located on Trolley platforms and at the front of buses), then tap your PRONTO card, or scan the QR code on the app ‘Use’ tab. You should receive a green check mark and a free fare message. Don’t forget to tap your card or scan your app every trip you make!
While registering your PRONTO card is not required to participate in YOP, it is highly encouraged should you lose your card. (Riders who use the app will automatically have their virtual card registered to their name/email on the account.) Riders can register their card online at RidePRONTO.com, over the phone (619-595-5636 or in-person (MTS Transit Store or NCTD Customer Service Center).
Additionally, all youth who wish to retain their Youth eligible status beyond July 31, 2023 should verify their eligibility at the MTS Transit Store or NCTD Customer Service Centers one time prior to July 31, 2023 (an online option will also be available). Once verified, youth will have their eligibility extended until their 19th birthday.
No, starting May 1, 2022, youth don’t need to load any money to their PRONTO app or card. Any cash on a Youth PRONTO app or card will stay on the account and won’t be deducted.
MTS and NCTD will not issue refunds for stored value on Youth cards or app accounts. Balances can be transferred to a non-Youth PRONTO product, or will remain on the Youth card/app for future use (stored value on PRONTO never expires).
Riders without a Youth account on PRONTO will be required to pay the one-way cash fare. One-way Youth cash fares for most MTS services are $1.25, and do not include any transfers to other bus or Trolley lines. See our full fare information here.
Riders with a PRONTO app account whose phone breaks, or is lost or stolen, can simply login to their PRONTO account on their new device, and select the option to ‘Transfer Existing Card.’ When you do this, your account/card will be blocked on your original device, and transferred to the new phone.
Important Note: You *should not* use the option to transfer existing card if you lost access to your device temporarily (i.e. phone dies). You cannot transfer your card to another device, and then back to your original device.
Face coverings on board MTS vehicles will be optional. Public health officials still strongly recommend riders use face coverings in public transportation settings, but face masks are no longer required.
Riders can use the online Trip Planner tool to find (also available within the PRONTO app) to find which route(s) best serve their destination. To use the online trip planner, enter your starting and ending destinations, then select the time you want to leave (‘Depart At’) or ‘Arrive By’ to see which route(s) and travel times are available.
Additionally, you can call the MTS Information and Trip Planning team (619-233-3004) to speak with a representative about your trip options and questions. The Information and Trip Planning team is available 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. weekdays, and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekends.
Real-time arrival information is available in the PRONTO app (see ‘Departures’), online at sdmts.com, or through the OneBusAway app. Real-time information allows you to see if your bus or Trolley is running ahead of or behind schedule, and to track vehicle progress. The system updates every 30 seconds (approximately), so be sure to check back closer to the scheduled time to see if there are updates to the estimated travel time. Additionally, riders can save their favorite routes and/or stops for easy reference on future trips.