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School District Students Get Free Rides
By Loookout Staff
December 13, 2021 -- Starting this week, School District students can begin purchasing $3 transit passes at their schools that give them free, unlimited rides on public transit.
The 18-month LA Metro Fareless System Initiative (FSI) -- which was approved at the November 18 School Board meeting -- allows students to ride the Metro and Santa Monica Big Blue Bus (BBB) lines using a TAP card.
Students will be required to register the card to begin participating in this program, District officials said. TAP cards must be presented for free rides.
"The main goal of the program is to reduce the number of student and family vehicles driving to SMMUSD schools by promoting alternative modes of transportation like public transit," officials said.
The program will cost the District about $28,000, or $3 per student, officials said.
The lion's share of the cost will be picked up by the City, which is also covering the cost for community college students.
In total, the BBB will lose between $350,000 and $550,000 during the 18-month pilot, City staff said when the City Council approved the program.
"A fee of $3 per student per school district per year should reimburse a minimal amount," staff wrote in August. "The remaining farebox revenue loss would be made up by existing funding sources."
City officials hope the program will reduce traffic and help turn students into lifelong public transit riders.
"Encouraging K-12 students to ride BBB would increase ridership and take cars off the road during crucial peak traffic periods," staff wrote.
"The pilot program also helps establish a positive comfort level about public transit for young riders that will carry on throughout their lives."
The program, said Superintendent Ben Drati, "aligns with our Sustainability Plan goal of expanding student commuting practices and increasing student use of public transit and other alternative modes such as walking and biking to school.
“This program will also reduce local traffic congestion and vehicle pollution in our communities," Drati said.
Participating local transit agencies include LA Metro, Big Blue Bus, Culver City Bus and LADOT Dash.
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