Dear Governor Newsom:
Please sign Assembly Bill 1919 (D-Holden) to make transit free for all students in California and help them succeed in school and in life, and to help us all reduce the number of cars on the road, clean the air and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The bill has passed through committees in both the Assembly and Senate with bipartisan support and only one no vote.
We have to find more ways to reverse the situation we are in with climate change looming, the air we all breathe getting dirtier and dirtier, the threat of wildfires, and this very serious drought. Zero-emission cars and trucks will help but it's not enough in the near term. We need more options!
The transit systems we have built in California have struggled during the pandemic and desperately need to increase ridership. And transit is key if we are to get serious about shifting away from single-occupancy vehicles in order to reduce traffic and make our streets safer for walking and biking.
As a father of four you know how expensive it can be to raise children. A 2015 study by Harvard University found access to transportation is the single biggest factor in the odds of escaping poverty and avoiding homelessness, and well-designed student pass programs are a cost-effective solution.
These programs have been shown to significantly increase student ridership, reduce the cost of an education, and increase enrollment and student success while also reducing absenteeism. Consider the example of Jessica, who was spending $100/month and riding four buses a day to attend community college—with AB 1919 she wouldn’t need to continue spending that much money to ride.
For low-income riders—especially students in the community college system—reducing the burden of transit passes could be a real game-changer: a study conducted by Rio Hondo College in Whittier found community college graduation rates are up to 27% higher for students who receive free transit passes.
Moreover, in addition to providing direct benefits to students—who won't need to pay for the cost of gas or maintaining and insuring a car—there are significant benefits to the community at large, to transit agencies, and to schools and colleges. For example, this bill will:
- reduce traffic congestion in neighborhoods near schools and campuses and make streets safer, especially in the morning;
- help our transit agencies recoup ridership post-pandemic and enhance revenue to operators, as well as enhance public confidence in the viability of transit investments in particular and public investments generally;
- benefit our educational system by improving attendance and student performance, reduce the need for parking garages on campus, and reduce conflicts with between schools/college and their neighbors.
Again, we ask that you sign AB 1919 to help us create the next generation of riders. Thank you for your consideration!