A newly approved program will give Los Angeles County students access to free subway bus and train rides from October through late June, officials said Friday.
In a partnership between the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the program offers TK students through 12th grade unlimited free travel from October 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021.
As part of the partnership, Los Angeles Unified will invest approximately $ 1.4 million annually over the next two years. In return, Metro will provide students with a TAP card that will give them access not only to all Metro-operated transportation, but also to transit rides from Culver City, Norwalk, Montebello, Santa Monica, and the Downtown Area Short Hop.
The Student Fare is part of Metro’s Fareless System Initiative, with Phase 1 offering free rides for K-12 and community college students in schools or districts that partner with Metro.
The initiative was launched in August 2020 to help LA County’s residents amid the rising cost of living in the area and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A 2019 Metro survey found that low-income residents who earn less than $ 39,450 a year make up about 70% of Metro’s passengers.
“Getting the free Metro TAP cards into the hands of every Los Angeles Unified student will be a game changer,” said Megan K. Reilly, interim director of LAUSD, in a statement. “Our commitment to providing free transportation will expand our students’ worldview. They get access to additional educational opportunities such as internships, employment and other meaningful experiences and leisure activities outside their immediate neighborhood. “
Officials add that providing LA County’s students with free, equal access to its public transportation system could increase school attendance, improve mobility and health, and reduce traffic congestion.
In a statement, Mayor Eric Garcetti said: “Transportation costs should never stand between our students and the opportunity.”
“Access to our systems should be a right, not a privilege,” Garcetti added. “The decision to promote free ridesharing for young Angelenos is a decisive step towards a system that is accessible to every driver – regardless of zip code or income level.”
Osiris Powell, a senior at Susan Miller Dorsey High School in Crenshaw, said that having free access to the subway “saves him money and time so that I can spend that time on my studies and the money on food.”
“As a Fire Academy student, I feel safe on the metro because I know the procedures and safety precautions to help people and myself,” said Powell. “The best thing for the students in Dorsey is that there is a train stop right in front of the school.”
Officials say LAUSD is the largest school district participating in the program, and Metro officials say the agency is working with more than 30 other schools and districts to get into the tariff-free program for students.
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