On Friday Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon announced a new pilot program that will allow all Knox County students, through high school, to ride Knoxville Area Transit buses at no charge.


The new Freedom Pass 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 new passes 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.


“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.”


Information about routes, bus stops and trip planning is available on the KAT website, katbus.com, or by downloading the free KATbus Tracker App, which is available on the App Store for IOS users or on Google Play for Android users.


“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.”


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.


Homeschooled and private school students wanting a Freedom Pass can visit the Knoxville Station customer service counter located at 301 Church Avenue.


All other passes should be arriving in the mail in early February and can be used immediately.