BART Salutes War Heroes With Free Rides

Newly-launched pilot program is first in nation

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    FORT CARSON, CO - AUGUST 29: A U.S. Army soldier salutes during the national anthem as soldiers return home from Iraq on August 29, 2009 in Fort Carson, Colorado. The last main body, some 314 soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division, returned home after a year deployment in Iraq. As American forces complete their deployments, the U.S. presence in Iraq continues to decrease as part of the drawdown of American forces after more than 6 years war in Iraq. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

    Soldiers, marines and sailors joined forces with Bay Area transit officials Thursday to help launch a one-of-a-kind program to show appreciation to military members serving in war zones.

    BART is now the first transportation agency in the country to give free rides to service members on leave from war. The agency set aside $50,000 for free tickets to service members on active duty who are on leave from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    "This is a small gesture of our deep appreciation to the men and women who leave their loved ones behind and put their lives on the line to defend our freedom," BART Board President James Fang said via a news release. "As concerned members of the Bay Area and Americans, BART is honored to provide this gesture to help these patriots literally re-connect with their lives back home."

    A combat veteran himself, BART Director John McPartland called the program, "the proudest moment and greatest contribution I've been able to make to the military service since I hung up my uniform over a decade ago."

    If the money runs out before the pilot program is set to expire, the board will consider modifying it.

    Service members can sign up for the program at Lake Merritt BART station.