MTS Summer Challenge Encourages Teens to Explore San Diego by Public Transit, for Free

Teenagers on an MTS tram. Courtesy of SANDAG

Home to dozens of sandy beaches and a unique variety of cultural attractions, San Diego is one of the most desirable, yet expensive, places to live in the United States. Unfortunately, many young people are unable to enjoy all that San Diego has to offer because their families cannot afford reliable transportation.

Fortunately, San Diego's metropolitan transit system now offers a solution for teens to explore their hometown: the Youth Opportunity Pass.

The Youth Pass provides San Diegans 18 and under the age of 18 with free travel on all fixed-route buses, trolleys and many MTS North County Transit District services. To participate in the program, youth riders must download the PRONTO ticketing app, create an account and convert it to a youth account online, by phone or in person.

Once their PRONTO for Youth account is created, riders can choose to purchase a physical PRONTO card, if they prefer, or use their digital card on the app. Youth riders must scan their physical or digital PRONTO card every time they travel on a bus, trolley or train for the ride to be considered free.

To encourage youth to apply for the pass and explore San Diego this summer, MTS has created the Y$2K Summer Challenge. The challenge is open to San Diego teens ages 13-18 who are Youth Pass holders. Participants must complete at least one of the following challenges and post it to their Instagram or TikTok accounts by July 31, 2024:

  • Use their pass to visit a clothing store of their choice and put together a fun, festive outfit.
  • Shoot a time-stamped video of themselves rushing to a library, park, and other major community landmark using their pass.
  • Go to their favorite taco shop using their pass and share their order.
  • Document how they personally use their pass over the summer.

Participants must post proof of their completed challenge, including an image of an MTS or NCTD vehicle and proof of their PRONTO account. Additionally, posts must mention @sdmts and use the hashtag #y2ktransit.

Ten teens will be the winners of the 2024 Y$2K Summer Challenge in August. There will be four winners whose posts receive the most likes and six winners whose posts will be voted on and selected by MTS staff. The four participants whose posts receive the most likes will have first choice of prizes.

Prizes include, but are not limited to, a Nintendo Switch, Beats headphones, an electric scooter, a beach cruiser, and several different gift cards.

The idea behind the program is to provide teens with a unique opportunity to explore and learn more about their hometown. The passes also improve teens’ access to health care and potential job opportunities. By eliminating the cost of transportation for its youth and improving accessibility, San Diego is making strides toward creating a more equitable community.

Avery Meiselman is a senior at Francis Parker School.

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