Assemblymember Chris Holden introduced legislation, AB 2176, that would provide free transit passes to students attending California Community Colleges, California State University, and University of California.
“To tackle climate change seriously, we need solutions that can make the biggest cuts to our emissions and the ability to implement them immediately,” said Assemblymember Chris Holden. “Free transit passes for students would curb greenhouse gas emissions, reduce the financial burden of attending school, and create healthier communities. It’s a win-win-win!”
California’s transportation sector accounts for forty one percent of our global warming pollution, making it the largest source. Twenty eight percent of California’s greenhouse gas emissions come from our cars and trucks. Students represent one of the largest segments of “drive alone” automobile users in California.
“Public transit can be a climate change super tactic, but we need to get ridership up now. This bill will get young people out of cars and into public transit,” said Dan Jacobson, Director for Environment California. “It’s a ‘must pass’ bill in 2020.”
“For millions of students, and thousands of UC students, driving to and from school is a major expense in addition to the already extraordinarily high cost of pursuing college,” said Aidan Arasasingham, Government Relations Chair for the University of California Student Association. “Access to affordable transportation, like food or housing, is a basic need for California students. A statewide free transit program could alleviate some of the costs that are driving students to a point of financial instability and food scarcity.”
“Free student transit passes would benefit students by reducing the cost of getting and education, and improve the quality of life for everyone by reducing traffic, GHG emissions, air pollution, and parking demand,” said Gloria Ohland, Director of Policy and Communications for MoveLA. “Moreover, because students often ride during off-peak hours, operating subsidies can be reduced while increasing overall transit ridership.”
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. Despite the success of local transit pass programs, California has no statewide program or plan for providing students access to quality transit programs.
“Because of Mr. Holden’s leadership, California has a real opportunity to step up for students, for public transit, and for the climate,” said Joshua Stark, State Policy Director for TransForm. “Tremendous untapped potential for public transportation lies here, where Californians take millions of trips each day, to our public colleges and universities. By serving students, our transit systems can build long-lasting riders and advocates for public transportation.”