Published : Tuesday, September 12, 2017 | 1:14 PM
Assemblymember Chris Holden’s bill that establishes a transit pass pilot program, Assembly Bill 17, cleared the legislature today and is heading to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk. The proposed transit pass pilot program would provide free or reduced cost transit passes for low-income K-12 and college students.
“College is expensive, and students are struggling because of it,” said Assemblymember Chris Holden. “For many students, transportation is among the most costly of all school-related expenses and providing free or low cost transit passes is a solution that benefits both students and the environment.”
A statewide free or low-cost transit program could alleviate some of the costs that are driving students to a point of financial instability and food scarcity. A recent study commissioned by the California State University (CSU) revealed that 1 in 10 CSU students are homeless, and 1 in 5 are food insecure. A separate study by the Institute for College Access and Success found that students enrolled in California Community Colleges (CCC) are becoming increasingly concerned about college expenses, and often compromise their education by taking less class credits to work more.
Assembly Bill 17 also aims to put a dent in California’s greenhouse gas emissions. According to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), California’s transportation sector accounts for 37 percent of California’s global warming pollution, and high school and college students represent one of the largest segments of “drive alone” automobile users in California. A recent study in the Journal of Planning Education and Research suggests that providing student access to quality public transit options during school-age years helps acquaint students with transit and develop lifelong ridership habits.
Small-scale student transit programs have been successful at several college campuses throughout the state. Transit programs at UC Davis and Sacramento State increased transit ridership by over 70 percent. Similar programs at Rio Hondo Community College and Pasadena City College have also increased ridership by nearly 40 percent.
“With the success of small-scale transit programs throughout California, we are ready to implement a statewide solution that benefits students and the planet,” said Holden.