Students in the LACCD will soon be able to ride public transportation free-of-charge under the fareless pilot program.
By Marcos Franco, Managing Editor
Valley College has partnered with LA Metro transportation authority to provide fareless bus, train and subway rides for students.
The pilot program provides cost-free transportation to students and low-income riders in Los Angeles. The agreement first began with K-12 LAUSD students on Oct. 1 and plans to include community colleges in mid-November according to LA Metro Communications Director Dave Sotero. Students will receive a Transit Access Pass (TAP) card through their college after submitting an application. The prepaid electronic card allows passengers to board buses and trains after scanning it on the fare-box. The program is a trial-run to determine the possibility of fareless transportation for all riders in the future and is dependent on federal and state funding. The board hints towards ending the commitment if funding is not received.
“Valley College and all LACCD schools are participating in the program,” said Valley President Barry Gribbons. “Students will be able to use Metro services for free, not just to come to Valley but wherever they go. It’s going to be an exciting benefit for students.”
According to the LA Metro website, 75 percent of the county’s community college students who ride transit are low income. By providing cost-free rides, the transit company helps students connect with educational and recreational opportunities.
All 230,000 students in the district will be eligible for the TAP card. Although it is too early for campus officials to know the exact details of the application and collection process, cards will be distributed by the college. The LACCD will pay $7 per student annually which will be the equivalent of $1.61 million per year. Students voiced their appreciation for the partnership, claiming the move to be an ease of finances.
“This is going to benefit students,” said 20 year-old business major Shelly Bosa. “I don’t drive yet so I use the bus to get to school and work, free rides would be super helpful.”
As one of the most traffic-dense cities in the world, Los Angeles is exposed to 60 percent more vehicle pollution than the state average. By eliminating the expense of ride fares, the LA Metro board plans to reduce carbon emissions through incentivizing use of public transportation over driving.
Transit agencies in incorporated areas are also participating in the initiative including Foothill Transit of the San Gabriel Valley, Santa Monica, Culver City, Montebello and Norwalk. The LA Metro is projected to lose $50 million in annual revenue over the course of two years, however $41.5 million will be provided by the American Rescue Plan. Members of the LA City Council shared their support for the fearless pilot program on twitter while voicing their persistence to provide all riders with cost-free transportation.
“This is a huge deal — but falls short of the goal of universal fareless transit,” board member and LA City Councilmember Mike Bonin wrote on Twitter. “It's a necessary step for economic and social justice.”