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March 13, 2018 > Student transit pass pilot program expansion approved

Student transit pass pilot program expansion approved

Submitted By Tess Lengyel

A popular student transit pass program will soon be expanding, thanks to a recent vote by the Alameda County Transportation Commission.

Commission members voted to OK a third year of the successful Student Transit Pass Pilot (STPP) program, a key component of Measure BB. The program provides free public transit passes to students in selected schools throughout Alameda County. An evaluation of year one of the program found that the program increased school attendance, had a high financial impact for students and their families, and increased after-school involvement.

"The Student Transit Pass Program has delivered on its promises to reduce barriers to transportation access to and from schools, improve transportation options for middle and high school students for afterschool activities and jobs, and build support for transit," said Alameda CTC Chair Richard Valle, Alameda County District 2 Supervisor. "I'm proud that we have expanded the program to six additional schools for the 2018-19 school year. As a Transportation Commission, this -- improving transportation access -- is among the most important work we do."

More than 6,000 students from fifteen middle and high schools throughout Alameda County are participating in the second year of the pilot. Program participation has doubled since the first year. In year three, 19,000 students will have access to free transit passes, with new students from middle and high schools in Oakland, Fremont, and Newark. The schools were selected from an approved list of 36 schools pre-approved for participation in the three-year pilot based on student need, transit access, and school readiness. Year three implementation will begin in August 2018.

Based on lessons learned from the first year, the Alameda CTC is testing two program models during the second and third year of the pilot: a free and universal model that provides free passes to all students, and a free and means-based model which provides free passes to low-income students. With the expansion in year three, the pilot will include 21 schools in seven school districts; with implementation of a free and universal model at 13 schools and a free and means-based model at seven schools.

The pilot includes training for participating middle schoolers on how to ride the bus including trip planning, navigating to and from the bus stop, and safe and courteous behaviors while on the bus. During the third year, the program will begin to integrate this transit/travel training element of the program with the Alameda County Safe Routes to Schools Program.

The bus passes are provided on an easy-to-use Clipper card that is valid for all year and not limited by day or time. Participating high school students can also opt to receive a youth BART ticket to enhance their travel options.

Measure BB provided $15 million for this three-year pilot program," said Alameda CTC Executive Director Arthur L. Dao. "We will be working to secure grants and build partnerships with the goal of implementing a student transit pass program beyond this scope, using the lessons learned through the implementation and evaluation of the pilot program."

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