Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti joined other local leaders at LA Valley College to accept a $1 million federal grant with help from Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
That money helps extend Metro’s GoPass program, allowing it to offer free transit passes to all community college students in Los Angeles County.
"[There is] the idea that transportation should be a human right, that we should not have barriers based on the ZIP code you’re in or the wealth of your parents," Garcetti said.
Cassondra Cabrera has a 6-year-old son and is studying film at LA City College.
"I’m free to go whenever without it being a burden, without worrying about how much it’s going to cost," she said.
"Prior to launching the LACCD GoPass program, students were paying up to $160 per semester for a Metro tap card," said Andra Hoffman with the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees.
LACCD says more than half of its students live at or below the poverty line, so every little bit helps, and students aren’t just limited to going to and from school.
"You can go to the museum. You can explore. We also are partnering with other transit agencies in LA County," said Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins.
Students just have to register to get the pass. There aren’t any income or class requirements.
"You go to the Student Services Center. You provide your ID, and then you sign a form, and then they hand it to you," said Asher Miles, a student at LA Valley College.
Miles is studying political science and journalism and says his catalytic converter was stolen three times from his car, so this has been a huge relief for him.
"I can just worry about paying the deductible for the Prius and right now, for the two weeks, I can just ride the GoPass, ride on the buses, and I don’t have to worry about the financial strain."
So far, Metro says more than 26,000 community college students in LA County have signed up for the Metro GoPass. That’s only about 5% of all community college students in the county, but Wiggins says those numbers were impacted by the pandemic. She expects signups and ridership to increase significantly as students return to class.
"We still had a lot of community colleges that had their class virtual. We’re really excited about this season because most community colleges as you can see today in the parking lot are now back to in-person classes," she said.
Wiggins added that removing barriers to transportation can open doors to improving education.