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Freedom Pass will allow Knox Co. students to ride KAT bus for free

Officials believe this will help students pursue jobs or activities outside of school hours, and visit libraries, museums, and college campuses.
Credit: City of Knoxville

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Knox County students can now ride KAT buses for free, under a new agreement with the City of Knoxville and Knoxville Area Transit.

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon announced the the Freedom Pass pilot program Friday morning. It will allow unlimited rides on KAT’s fixed route bus service through Dec. 31, 2021. 

“The City’s Freedom Pass program will increase access to after-school activities, jobs, parks, libraries and so much more at no cost to families,” Mayor Kincannon said. “This was a promise I made to voters on the campaign trail and one that could go a long way in enriching the lives of students, easing financial burdens and helping our environment all at the same time.”  

The pass will be mailed to the parents of all Knox County public school students in grades 6-12. Younger students are not required to have a pass. They should arrive in early February and can be used immediately. 

“This program will not replace the school-bus service provided by Knox County Schools, and the district will continue to offer before- and after-school transportation,” Superintendent Bob Thomas said. “However, we believe that making KAT service more affordable will help students pursue jobs or activities outside of school hours, and broaden their access to cultural institutions such as libraries, museums, and college campuses.” 

You can get information about routes, bus stops and trip planning the KAT website or by downloading the free KATbus Tracker App.

“The KAT Freedom Pass is an investment in your child and the Knoxville community,” Director of Transit Isaac Thorne said. “We are excited to launch this new initiative, and we look forward to welcoming more students on the bus.”  

According to a press release, students with disabilities that do not allow them to ride regular fixed-route bus service are eligible to receive a similarly structured Freedom Pass that applies to the KAT LIFT service. For more information about KAT LIFT, please call (865) 637-3000.  

Students who are home schooled or those at private schools can request a Freedom Pass at the Knoxville Station customer service counter located at 301 Church Avenue.