It’s no secret that attaining an education that prepares young people for the competition of the national and global marketplace is growing increasingly difficult. School budget cuts, perpetually increasing tuition increases, and the lack of employment and internships are bad enough but students young and old also face transportation barriers that make it hard, and expensive, to access the opportunities they need to build a future. As school districts have been forced to cut budgets, they’ve also cut back, or even entirely eliminated, bus service. This has left families on the hook for the costs of driving to and from school. For lower and middle class families still struggling from the Great Recession, this is a burden that makes life difficult.
Enter free and low-cost transit passes for youth. Pilot programs are popping up around the state to provide transit passes to K-12 and college students. In addition to the economic benefits for students and their families, the passes also help to reduce traffic, which in turn helps clean the air. However, for these programs to have a lasting impact they must be expanded and become permanent. An op-ed from TransForm published in the San Diego Union-Tribune this week proposes using state cap-and-trade auction revenues to expand these programs as a way to fight climate change and provide a boost for hard-working families.