This is 30: On where you can go with a GoPass

Metro’s GoPass pilot program was launched in October 2021 –– a special initiative designed to provide students throughout Los Angeles County with a free and reliable means of transportation, wherever they need to go. Yes, you heard that right. Once enrolled, students from participating K-12 schools and community colleges can ride Metro buses and trains anywhere for FREE! Today, it’s used by over 100 school districts, 1,400 schools and over 241,000 students. How does it work? Just ask Siyeong Kim, a high school student at North Hollywood High School and a member of Metro’s Youth Council.   

By Siyeong Kim

North Hollywood Station. Photo by Aurelia Ventura

I found out about the Metro Youth Council from scrolling through Instagram. This happens a lot among people my age –– we get lots and lots of ads about social justice causes. Especially after the events of 2020 and the protests against police brutality. Well, Instagram’s ad targeting system worked. I found myself clicking the link to learn more.  

I was born in South Korea, and lived there until I was five years old before my family emigrated to the US. I still go back to visit every year. In Seoul and Busan, everyone uses public transportation. The subway system is very clean and incredibly efficient. Millions of people ride it every day. And while there’s progress being made here in Los Angeles, with more new lines being built, there’s still a lot of work to do. LA is still known as a driving city. And people worry about public safety on the buses and trains.  

There’s no easy solution to creating a more accessible transit system here in Los Angeles. But there’s a way to start.  

It’s called GoPass.  

I first learned about Metro’s free fare program for students when my school organized a field trip Downtown and to Little Tokyo. The plan was to take Metro from our school in North Hollywood, which is a 15 minute walk from the North Hollywood Station on the B (Red) Line. Our school had recently enrolled in GoPass, so all the students were all encouraged to take advantage of the program. 

I go to North Hollywood High School, which is the only highly gifted magnet program in the LAUSD. That means that the school attracts kids from all across Los Angeles County … which is huge. Some students take a bus to a train to another bus every morning. It could take three hours from door to door. For many of my classmates, the free rides make a big difference.  

Getting the actual pass was incredibly easy. All I had to do was take a flight of stairs down to our school’s main office, where I filled out some basic information.  In less than five minutes, I received a TAP card loaded with unlimited free rides.  

A week after I got my GoPass, it was time for the field trip. We left school around noon that day. (Here are my friends and I on the train, enjoying a moment of Shrek filters over our masked faces.)

Siyeong and friends snap a selfie.

This was my first time riding Metro Rail,  and I could see my peers gawking from the windows at the enormous concrete platform. I know. Concrete. It seems mundane. But it almost felt like entering a secret portal carrying you throughout Los Angeles.  It was also easier than expected to find the right platform and train, which was one thing I found more convenient about Metro compared to the transit systems I used in Korea.  

We were back in North Hollywood by 3p.m. By car, this trip would have taken 50 minutes each way (not including parking). On Metro, the ride took less than half of that. When you’re in high school, the time saved is very important. It gives us more time to play.  

For many of my classmates, having a GoPass is a free ticket to ride. For me, it’s a ticket to adventure. I don’t drive yet, so I usually have to ask my parents for a ride if I want to explore somewhere new. GoPass has changed that. Most of the time, I don’t use GoPass for school but to visit places that are far away. I’ll take it from North Hollywood to the Glendale Galleria. It’s where I most often meet up with my friends. From North Hollywood Station to Burbank Station through Metrolink’s Antelope Valley Line, and then taking the Ventura County Line, I was able to reach my destination and spend a day with my mom. For my mother who sometimes has a hard time driving, Metro adds another layer of convenience—especially since it was free for me with the GoPass! We enjoyed our day with toasty pretzels and a meal at Cheesecake Factory. 

I believe this is what accessibility looks like. Simple. Affordable. Efficient. Where a single card can take you just about anywhere in LA. It works for anyone, regardless of your origin or background. It lets you explore places that you might have read about but have never been. I often think about how incredibly vast LA is –– nearly four million people live in the city of L.A.! That’s four million different challenges when it comes to getting around. You might think of Metro as the common denominator. This was one of the many reasons why I applied to the Metro Youth Council while scrolling on social media.  

Is your school already enrolled in the GoPass program? Find out here! Want to get your school enrolled? Fill out this form! Already enrolled? We’d love to learn where you are going with your GoPass. Send us your stories!