Parents of students using the city's free bus rides can get a closer look next week, at no charge.

Rapid City will again provide free transportation for Rapid City's school-age children along the Rapid Transit System's RapidRide routes. 

In addition, the city is offering a free ride orientation week for parents on any of the RapidRide buses. Parents can ride free Aug. 21-29 when accompanied by their school-age child; the intent is to help parents become familiar with routes and schedules, officials said.

City and school officials held a news conference Friday at Rapid City Central High School to promote the orientation week and the second year of the free youth rides. 

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The event also included remarks from Rapid City School Superintendent Lori Simon, Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender, Rapid Transit System Manager Rich Sagen and Danita Simons with United Way of the Black Hills.

City and school officials said improving school attendance continues to be a top priority for the school district, and the Rapid Ride youth transit program is an important component of that, also noting that September is Attendance Awareness Month.

Rapid Ride recorded more than 88,000 youth passenger trips on its system from September 2016 through May 2017, according to city officials.

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