- Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a program to provide all public school students and community college students with free passes for unlimited downtown bus service (DASH).
Launching a pilot program to provide free, unlimited @LADOTofficial DASH passes for @LASchools and @LACCD students because a lack of reliable transportation should never be a roadblock between our students and their dreams. https://t.co/T0Gu9NDhdL pic.twitter.com/86zCq2cmw6— Mayor Eric Garcetti (@MayorOfLA) June 3, 2019
- The pilot program will begin in the fall and run for one year, though Garcetti said at a press conference that he anticipates the program will become permanent. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) estimates the passes will increase student ridership by 10%.
- The program is funded by the California Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (LCTOP), a cap-and-trade system. LCTOP was established in 2014 to provide transit agencies with capital and operating assistance while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving mobility, with a priority on disadvantaged communities.
Los Angeles leaders say that providing students with bus passes will spur transit ridership and potentially foster a new generation of transit users.
But mainly, they introduced the pilot to provide a free, safe and reliable way for students to get to and from school, activities and jobs.
To participate, students must buy a reduced-fare transit card, but they will automatically receive free rides when they tap the card on DASH buses, reports Streetsblog LA. The free rides program could expand to other forms of transit in the future.
There's been a growing interest in the last year around offering free transit to vulnerable populations, especially students. Earlier this year, Boston's mayor proposed free bus passes for students in grades 7 through 12, and last month a Sacramento city council member proposed free passes for all students in kindergarten through 12th grade to ride any form of regional transit. Last year, Seattle's city council approved free transit passes for public high school students. Washington, DC offers free transit trips for students traveling to and from school or school-related activities.
Estimates show 30% of community college students who participate in Los Angeles' College Promise initiative regularly struggle to pay for transportation, and more than 20% have missed classes because of the cost or lack of reliable transportation.