Students Vote for Discount Transit Passes

(reposted from a Press Release from Assembly Member Sandré Swanson’s website. Original article by Semaj D. La Niger for the Laney Tower)

Students of the Peralta Colleges were joined by Assembly Member Sandre Swanson (D-Oakland) as well as Peralta and AC Transit officials to celebrate the passage of AB 1980, the Peralta Colleges Transportation Accessibility Act July 24 at Laney College. The bill was signed into law by governor Schwarzenegger last week.

“At a time of rising gas prices, this bill will bring economic relief for hardworking students,” said Swanson, an alumnus and former student body president of Laney College. “It will also contribute to a greener economy and healthier environment by taking more cars off the road.”

AB 1980 will allow students in the Peralta Colleges to vote on a fee to discount bus passes, either for the entire student body or for students who take a specified number of units.

The launch of the EasyPass for Peralta was also discussed. This one-year pilot program, funded by Peralta, will allow full-time students to receive a significant discount on bus passes. Opposed to the $70 students currently pay for 31-day ride passes-or the $80 per month proposed by AC Transit earlier this spring due to rising fuel costs-full-time students with 12 units or more will only have to pay $50 each semester, saving students over $500 every year.

“I had classes at several different campuses. I often had to arrive late or leave early from class in order to use a transfer pass before it expired,” said Reginald James, a former student trustee for the Peralta College District who has advocated for the bus pass program for several years. “If this program had already been in existence at Peralta, I would have already been able to transfer to a university; however, it is a blessing that future students will not have to defer neither their educations nor their dreams, as I have.”

Students who utilize the program will receive a TransLink card that will also function as a student identification card. Peralta Trustees, Nicky Gonzalez Yuen, Vice President, representing Area 4, and Abel Guillen, who represents Area 7, have also worked with James over the past two years to establish the program.

“This bus pass program is a perfect example of Peratla’s focus on environmental justice,” stated Yuen. “Struggling students can now get to school and work. We promote public transit, and we help our environment. This couldn’t be a better combination,” he added.

“Through this program full-time students will save over $1000 a year that they can now use for books or childcare,” said Guillen, who worked on establishing a similar program at UC Berkeley while a student there.

“I was proud to carry this legislation for our community college students, and am very pleased with the work that Peralta and AC Transit officials have done to make this agreement a reality,” said Swanson.

“This partnership is no only essential to the accessibility of the Peralta Colleges to our community, but to the sustainability of our environment. This will help students who are forced between buying lunch and paying for a ride home,” said James.

AC Transit Board President Chris Peeples said, “I am very pleased that Peralta students will have a greater chance to use AC Transit.” The Easy Pass, which will start in the fall 2008 will “save Peralta students money and save AC tiem as they board and pay with their TransLink cards.”

“Our community colleges fuel our economy. If someone is looking for a path to prosperity, especially in the new green economy, a vocational degree or certificate is often the doorway to a new career and increased financial stability. At a time when we need to jumpstart our economy, we should do everything we can to make college accessible. The Peralta College Transportation Accessibility Act ensures that getting to school does not get in the way of a brighter future,” Swanson concluded.

The EasyPass for Peralta will be available during the fall 2008 semester, which begins August 20. For more information, contact Reginald James at rjames@actransit.org.