Driving change in California

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

Free transportation will remove one more barrier for community college students

Not having reliable or low-cost transportation is a barrier for college students. Some colleges in California have programs to make students’ commutes easier.

The Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) launched this week the GoPass program for all LACCD students. GoPass enables students to ride all buses and trains operated by Metro and participating transit agencies completely free of charge through Dec. 31, 2022.

Just a quarter of students in the district reported regularly using public transit to attend class prior to the Covid-19 pandemic — mainly because of cost concerns.

“It is fitting that transit equity in Los Angeles County takes a big step here today,” LACCD Board President Steve Veres said during a Dec. 7 press conference at a Metro B Line (Red) Station near Los Angeles City College. “We have been advocating in support of this issue for over four years. This fareless transit system for all students, particularly for community college students, is transformational for over 50% of our students, who’ve told us they have difficulty paying for public transport. This effort will undoubtedly bring improved quality of life and peace of mind to many of our student’s, allowing them to focus on their academic success.”

The program is the result of grassroots advocacy from LACCD students, LACCD board of trustees and a Fareless Transit Initiative Task Force set up by Metro to reduce inequity in transportation. Students engaged in the work of coalition building to gain support, winning the endorsement of the Metro board of directors and Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, who voted unanimously to approve the LACCD Student Transit Pass Pilot Program in September.

The GoPass program already provides fareless transit to students in elementary, middle and high schools.

“Establishing fareless transit for LACCD students eases the financial burden and further increases educational access and opportunity for our most underserved students,” LACCD Chancellor Francisco C. Rodriguez said.  “I am committed to working alongside Metro to find the resources for the GoPass because our students need to get back to school in order for our economy to bounce back and recover from the devastating impact of this global pandemic.”

Coastline College also announced  this week that it’s partnering with the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) to extend the OCTA community college pass program to Coastline College students. Starting Jan. 31, students will be able to use their student ID card or get a special pass on the OC Bus app to ride the bus anywhere in Orange County.

“We have been looking forward to this partnership with OCTA and I have been wanting to make sure that we provide free bus passes for Coastline students. Especially during these times, students need even more support,” Vice President of Student Services Kate Mueller said.

The College Pass gets enrolled students unlimited bus rides to campus, work, shopping and more on OC buses for the next three years. Students need to be enrolled in at least nine credits to receive this benefit.

Is your college making transportation more accessible for students? Sound off on LinkedIn.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.