State Responds to Local Advocacy, No-Cost Transit Passes for Youth Regaining Momentum

Alondra & Maria from Hoover ITCH club

Making sure all youth can grow up to be happy, healthy, contributing adults is everyone's responsibility. Transportation is crucial to youth development and state and local elected officials are responding to advocacy across California for affordable, efficient, and safe transit systems.

"I request $50 million to be allocated from the FY 2018- 2019 State Budget to fund a Student Transit Pass Pilot Program, as described by AB 17 from 2017. The funding for this program would foster a new generation of transit users, help underserved students, and reduce the number of cars on the road," wrote Assemblymember Holden to the California Assembly Committee on Budget in December 2017.

Holden's request for $50 million to reintroduce a Student Transit Pass Pilot Program comes a year after the first version of the bill, AB 17, made the long legislative journey to the governor's desk, but was vetoed. If signed by Governor Brown, the new version of the youth transit pass program,  AB2304, "will provide students and schools the opportunity to partner with regional transit providers to develop innovative student transit programs," explains Assemblymember Holden.

Equity, youth opportunity, and the environment are at the core of the Mid-City CAN's Improving Transportation City Heights' (ITCH) effort to fund Youth Opportunity Passes, our local version of no-cost student transit passes. "We call them Youth Opportunity Passes because mobility is about getting to the opportunities we need in order to grow and develop," said Alondra Guzman, President of the newly-formed Hoover ITCH student club at a recent press conference.

As state legislators respond to communities across California calling for free and low-cost transit passes for youth, young San Diegans continue organizing to build momentum locally. Mid-City CAN has found strong allies in Climate Action Campaign (CAC) and other community partners taking on climate change. CAC's 2017 Climate Action Plan Report Card, for example, concluded that while our region leads the nation in its commitment to 100% clean energy, it also falls behind on social equity. This means San Diego is not doing enough to prioritize City Heights and other communities most affected by climate change, low-income communities of color.

"All youth deserve to be able to get safely to school, to activities, to jobs, and to other opportunities without straining their family’s finances. For example, for a family with 3 children, transit passes would cost them $1,300 for a year," said Alondra about the strain that the current cost of transportation causes on low-income families.

With the recent appointment of Georgette Gómez to Chair of MTS and as state officials act on California's call for youth transit programs, we hope to see increased support and funding for Youth Opportunity Passes. Gómez has expressed that she wants to focus “on getting funding for free or discounted youth transit passes,” and we look forward to working with her, other local leaders, and state representatives to ensure youth can get to the places they need to reach their full potential.

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