A Brief History of Student Transit Pass Advocacy 

Move LA has been working for 15 years to create “insurance-like” transit discount programs – where all students pay a little and all students get a pass - at transit agencies across California for students at K-12 institutions, community colleges, and our state’s universities. These programs have proven to immediately create a culture of ridership, reduce VMT, and cut greenhouse gas emissions. But beyond that, it is the social welfare benefits that really bring value—from reducing absenteeism at K-12 schools to increasing graduation rates at community colleges to reducing poverty and homelessness, these programs are proven to work…and work quickly. Here is a brief history of Move LA’s work to expand access to public transit for students:


Santa Monica College Associated Students Vote for the “Any Line, Any Time” Program
Santa Monica College staff presented to the Associated Students a proposal negotiated with the Big Blue Bus to enhance student transit access to SMC via the Big Blue Bus Pico Line for a low semester fee. One AS Student Director asks, “What would it cost if we wanted access to any line, any time instead?” SMC staff answer: $14 per semester.  Immediately, the student made a motion to support the “any line, any time” option, which passed unanimously. Student ridership on the BBB grew dramatically.   

Los Angeles County Voters Approve Funding for Public Transit
Measure R, a ½ cent sales tax measure initiated by Move LA to raise funds to invest in the transit system and service expansion, is approved by 2/3rds of voters. The measure includes 20% of funds for operating costs and service enhancements.

California State Budget Includes Funding Eligible for Student Pass Programs

A program for investment of Cap-and-Trade Funds that includes continuous appropriations for transit operations is approved.  In 2015,
Caltrans would adopt guidelines that expressly includes student transit pass programs as an eligible expenditure.  Being “eligible” is a start, but we still have to get the funds actually allocated for student transit passes.

Move LA Hosts Student Pass Summit
Students come together at LA Trade Tech College to organize and advocate for a funded pilot program for discounted student transit passes.

At Move LA Urging, LA Metro Approves Supervisor Ridley-Thomas Motion to Assess and Develop Opportunities for Universal Student Transit Pass Program 

Assemblyman Chris Holden Proposed AB 2222

This state bill proposed $50 million per year dedicated to implementation of student transit pass programs around California.  After getting through the Assembly, the bill ultimately dies in Senate Appropriations Committee.

Metro Discusses Another Sales Tax Measure for November 2016

Some funding is set aside for senior, disabled, and student passes at Move LA’s urging.  

Voters Approve Measure M by Over 71%

The measure includes 2% set aside for senior, disabled, and student pass programs.

Assemblyman Chris Holden Proposes AB 17
This proposed legislation allocated $20 million a year for the creation of a statewide student transit pass program that transit operators could use to subsidize their local programs.

AB 17 (Holden) passes the California State Legislature
With a vote in the Assembly of 71-4 and the State Senate of 37-3, the bill goes to the governor’s desk.  

Governor Brown Vetoes AB 17

In his veto message, he urges studies on the effectiveness of student transit passes to be conducted


Metro Launches its Student Pass Pilot Program

The Metro UPASS program is at 12 schools, expected to be 14 by Spring. Metro expects 1 million boardings by the end of Spring semester across all campuses with 20,000 passes sold. The UPASS program authorized for 2 years by the Metro Board to expire in Q3 2020.

Legislature Budgets for Studies Proposed by Governor Brown Regarding Student Transit Passes 

Metro Votes to Extend the Student Transit Pass Discount Program

Move LA is Funded to Launch a Student Pass Pilot at an LAUSD School

The 11th Hour Project funds Move LA, the LA Promise Fund, and SLATE-Z to partner with Metro and LAUSD to launch a one-year pilot at a high school in South LA to collect data on the effectiveness of the program.


UC Institute for Transportation Studies Publishes Report Commissioned by the Legislature
It is very favorable to student transit pass programs


Lorena Gonzalez Introduces AB 1050 to Fund Student Transit Passes

COVID emergency in March puts legislature into recess and the bill is dropped.

Move LA Successfully Advocates for the GoPass Pilot Program at Metro

This ‘any line, any time’ student pass pilot program immediately makes all 1.3 million K-12 and community college students in LA County eligible to receive a free student transit pass through participating schools.

Move LA and Asm. Holden Introduce AB 1919 to Create a Statewide Student Pass Program

Move LA mobilizes nearly 100 groups to support it. This time, both houses of the legislature approve it unanimously – but Governor Newsom still vetoes the bill, saying there was no room in the budget for new programs.


Move LA and Asm. Holden Introduce AB 610

Modeled after AB 1919, this bill easily clears the Assembly unanimously, stalls in Senate, and is carried over as two-year bill as the State faces an enormous budget deficit.


Metro Extends Popular GoPass Program After 20 Million Rides
With dramatic increases in student ridership helping to bolster recovery from COVID ridership decline, Metro renews the GoPass pilot program for another year and includes it in the budget. 


Metro action to make GoPass permanent is pending