Every year, an estimated 6% to 7% of youth run away from home, which is more than 1.5 million children and teens, according to the National Runaway Safeline (NRS), a federal runaway and homeless youth crisis service.
The reasons that youth run away can run the gamut, according to the NRS report, and include family dynamics, abuse and financial problems at home. But in the situations where runaways do want to make a safe return home, Greyhound bus lines — which connect 3,800 cities across the country — will issue free tickets home to children and teens.
Through a partnership with National Runaway Safeline (NRS), Greyhound Bus Lines offers the “Home Free” program to get the nation’s youth back to their parents or guardians. Every year, about 400 kids who run away get a free ticket back home through the partnership.
Greyhound’s Home Free program has been around for more than three decades. Started in 1987, the bus line has provided free transportation to more than 200,000 youth and their family members across the United States, according to a 2017 press release from the company that marked the 30th anniversary of the program.
There are some requirements for qualifying for a Home Free ticket:
- The child, teen or young adult will be required to call the NRS Hotline; toll-free 1-800-RUNAWAY or (1-800-786-2929).
- The child, teen or young adult needs to be between the ages of 12 and 21.
- The child, teen or young adult needs to be named on a runaway report and be willing to be reunited with his or her family (and vice versa).
Additionally, Greyhound’s Home Free program can only be used on two occasions by the same person. Greyhound will also provide a free ticket for the parent or legal guardian if the runaway child is under the age of 15.
Greyhound has several programs that offer discounted and free travel to those in need, including a partnership with Red Cross to provide buses during emergencies and disasters, free rides for organ transplant patients and discounted tickets for veterans traveling to Veterans Affairs hospitals.
If you want to access the Home Free program or find out more information about it, you can visit Greyhound’s information page about the program.