The Metro Board of Directors today approved $20 million to extend Metro’s popular GoPass fareless pilot program for K-14 students for the next fiscal year ending June 30, 2024. The program was originally set to expire on June 30, 2023.
Metro’s GoPass pilot program provides a free transit pass that helps lower students’ overall educational costs and improves academic performance while giving them a reliable means of transportation to attend school, jobs, medical appointments and leisure activities. The program has grown in popularity among county schools and school districts since its launch, with more than 100 school districts and 1,400 schools now participating. More than 241,000 students have registered as GoPass participants, which represents nearly 20 percent of the 2+ million students in L.A. County. Students have generated over 16.6 million boardings on the Metro system since the program began, averaging over 1.2 million boardings every month.
“We extended the GoPass pilot program because it provides a better quality of life and future job growth opportunities for the most disadvantaged students in our county,” said Glendale City Councilmember and Metro Board Chair Ara J. Najarian. “Students can use these passes not just for school, but to any other destination they want or need to travel to in our county. It’s a truly unlimited pass program that has already demonstrated its ability to improve our students’ lives and save them hundreds of dollars in transportation costs every year.”
Metro’s GoPass pilot program officially launched in October 2021. It sought to alleviate some of the financial pressure for L.A. County residents still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and utilized one-time federal funding through the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Funding the program also relies on cost-sharing agreements with participating schools and school districts.
“Transportation can be cost-prohibitive for many low-income residents, especially if they need to use our system frequently,” said Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, Metro Board Member. “That’s why this program is so important. This program reduces the need for Angelenos to spend a large portion of their income on transportation.”
The Board’s extension, paid for with Fiscal Year 2024 operating funds, will enable Metro to retain the benefits of this pilot program while the agency continues to identify and pursue local, state, federal and other funding opportunities.
The GoPass pilot program makes it possible for Metro to remove the burden of transit costs for students and their families and provide them with greater economic stability. Providing free fares for these riders greatly enhances their access to schools and post-school activities, employment, medical care and social services, among others.
Families of K-12 students who participate in the GoPass Program typically see a yearly savings of $288 per student compared with Metro’s previously offered reduced fare student monthly passes. Community college students participating in the program save $516 per year. Some community college participants are parents with children who also participate in GoPass, which saves the entire family more than $800 a year overall.
A study Metro participated in has shown that students who receive a free transit pass have up to 27 percent higher graduation rates, which leads to expanded academic and employment opportunities.
“This is a great deal for students throughout L.A. County,” said Janice Hahn, L.A. County Board of Supervisors Chair and Metro Board Member. “Any schools not yet offering the GoPass, what are you waiting for?”
One of the key benefits of the GoPass pilot program has been its ability to help Metro meet a number of important goals, such as improving social equity, increasing transit ridership and creating environmental benefits. The program positively impacts public health with reduced greenhouse gas emissions and improved air quality.
“Thank you to the Metro Board for extending the GoPass pilot program for another year,” said Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins. “GoPass has clearly met an unmet need in our communities by helping K-12 and community college students get to school while building up their familiarity and comfort with public transportation. We are also benefitting our climate action goals.”
“Santa Monica College has the highest number of participating students of any school, at just over 11,000 passes activated since GoPass was launched!” said Santa Monica College Superintendent/President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery. “For our students — many pursuing higher education while juggling familial responsibilities and jobs, traveling long distances to get to one of SMC’s campuses — the impact of GoPass is far-reaching: not just financial, it is a crucial part of a support system that ensures students can persist in fulfilling their academic or career goals. We are immensely grateful to Metro for this visionary program!”
The GoPass pilot program is the first phase of Metro’s Fareless System Initiative. The agency greatly streamlined the regional “Low Income Fare is Easy” (LIFE) discount fare program and has also succeeded in doubling public participation in that program as well within the last year. There are now more than 221,000 participants in the LIFE Program.
For more information about Metro’s GoPass Fareless Pass Program, please visit metro.net/gopass.
Additional Metro Board Member Quotes
“The costs of transportation should never stand between our students and opportunity,” said Karen Bass, L.A. Mayor and Metro Board Member. “All students deserve equal opportunity, and Metro is doing its part to make sure nothing keeps our students from obtaining all the benefits that a good education provides.”
“The Go Pass pilot program is an important tool for transportation equity,” said Holly J. Mitchell, L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Member. “It has helped us ensure that L.A. County students have access to not only education, but also extracurriculars, jobs, healthcare, family, and more so I look forward to continuing to expand this effort.”
“By eliminating the cost and worry of transit fare for students across the county, this program is helping students and their families focus on their academic success and other goals,” said Hilda L. Solis, L.A. County Supervisor, and Metro Board Member. “Not only are we eliminating transportation costs from being a barrier to students’ access to opportunities, but we’re also encouraging the next generation of L.A. County leaders to ride Metro to get where they need and want to go.”
Additional School District Quotes
“The extension of the GoPass Program is important to the Montebello Unified School District because many of our students, particularly high school students, rely on city buses to go to school, go home from after school events, go to work, and get around town on weekends,” said Montebello Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Kaivan Yuen. “We have received numerous positive phone calls and email comments about how the GoPass Program has helped ease working parents’ schedules by enabling students to ride the bus to school and provide a safe mode of transportation for students to engage in their day-to-day responsibilities as well as leisure activities.”
“The Metro GoPass program has been a huge benefit to our students. Many have taken advantage of this to expand their world,” said Paramount Unified School District Superintendent Ruben Frutos. “More importantly and valuable, it has allowed students who need transport to and from school, who do not fit within our current parameters or who are taking advantage of extended after school or athletic opportunities, to still travel safely.”
“The GoPass program’s extension helps ensure Long Beach Unified students and families can continue to access reliable transportation to school, jobs and other opportunities,” said LBUSD Superintendent Jill A. Baker. “We’re grateful for LA Metro’s commitment to providing this critical support to our community.”
Categories: Policy & Funding