ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — A new program launched by Escambia County Area Transit Wednesday will allow children under the age of 18 to ride for free.

“We want to empower them to feel safe, and be a future rider of the transit,” said Rodriques Kimbrough, Mass Transit Director Escambia County Board of Commissioners.

The Student Transit Empowerment Pass (STEP) hopes to get the youth to places like community centers, libraries and after school jobs.

“What we’ve done with the student empowerment pass or ‘STEP into transit’ will not only help our ridership, but we will also be allowing our young folks from our area the ability to get where they need to go,” said Kimbrough.

Parents and guardians must fill out an application for their child, and can then receive a badge for free rides at their office at 1515 W Fairfield Drive.

By introducing the youth to the transit system, ECAT will be able to reduce carbon emissions with fewer single vehicles on the road.

ECAT also unveiled three new buses for the first time since 2014. The new buses are equipped with Wi-Fi, new fair boxes that can accept credit cards and upgraded bus tracking on the website.

“We just want to move into the new age with new equipment and it’ll be more pleasing with serving the citizens better,” said Kimbrough.