Starting this August, Los Angeles students will ride free on the city’s DASH buses. This was the announcement made on Monday by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
When speaking about the one-year pilot program at a press conference, Garcetti said, ““A lack of reliable transportation should never be a roadblock between students and their dreams. Free DASH passes will help students get to class on time, save money for families who are struggling to make ends meet, boost school attendance, and empower young people to get involved with clubs or take a job that previously felt out of reach.”
Launching a pilot program to provide free, unlimited @LADOTofficial DASH passes for @LASchools and @LACCD students because a lack of reliable transportation should never be a roadblock between our students and their dreams. https://t.co/T0Gu9NDhdL pic.twitter.com/86zCq2cmw6— Mayor Eric Garcetti (@MayorOfLA) June 3, 2019
Garcetti’s office points to statistics from other US cities that have already instituted such programs, stating, “…more than 90 percent of students have reported seeing clear benefits from free bus passes — including better attendance and improved grades.”
The program is open to all students in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and Los Angeles College District (LACCD). It will be administered through the Metro’s Reduced Fare Program.
Funding for the pilot program is through California’s Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (LCTOP).
A Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) spokesperson tells Parentology, “Any students who signs up for the program will receive a TAP card, they just have to qualify either through the “K-8 & 9-12” or “college/vocational school” category under the Reduced Fare Program. Once a student signs up for the program and they receive a TAP card, that TAP card will register for free fare on LADOT DASH buses and reduced fares on Metro. The LADOT DASH machines will recognize the student TAP card and will not charge any money for the trip.”
LADOT is readying for the influx of student passengers. They’re anticipating an annual increase of 3,029,400 additional student riders. DASH currently operates in 27 Los Angeles communities. Already in the works are new routes, modifications and increased frequency.
“We will be announcing additional expanded services later this year, but we recently expanded DASH service hours downtown until 9 p.m. weekdays, now have weekend service on all routes, as well as earlier weekday service,” an LADOT spokesperson tells Parentology.
Even before its August launch, Garcetti has said he’s hoping the free student ride program will become permanent. He also alluded to the possibility of the Metro following in the pilot program’s footsteps. Currently, Los Angeles’ Metro system operates reduced fares for students.
As for LADOT, they’re embracing the program. “We want students to use DASH as a vehicle of education to experience LA’s great cultural centers, museums, enjoy our parks, and get more hands-on learning. LADOT sees that an investment in our students’ transportation options as an investment in clean air, education, and ultimately, a more resilient LA. ”