- LA Youth - http://www.layouth.com -

Local group campaigns for cheaper, better student bus pass

The Bus Riders Union has a new campaign for a $10 monthly student bus pass which students could buy at school.

Currently, student passes cost $20 a month, and students must apply for a new sticker each month. This is a problem for the majority of bus riders, who come from working class minority families, according to the union. Some families must choose between paying bus fare for the parents to get to work or their children to get to school. Another problem is that the application process asks for a social security number, discouraging kids who don’t have legal documents from applying.

Some teens who were interviewed seemed to agree that this cheaper, easier bus pass would be a great idea.

Fairfax student Daniel Jimenez, 17, said, "I like that idea, I think it should be free."

Mario Velasco, 15, who takes the bus to Fairfax High School from Vine Street in Hollywood every day, said "That would be cool." He said that it was a hassle that he had to re-apply for a new sticker on his bus pass every month. Sometimes he’d forget and then he’d have to pay $1.35 or use a token.

But another Fairfax student, Juan Solis, 15, said he only spends $4 a month on bus tokens so a $10 pass wouldn’t really benefit him.

Gupin Saelak, 14, of Marshall High said she liked the $10 price. "That’s so cheap and inexpensive. I don’t have a bus pass because it’s $20 and that’s a lot of money."

Her friend Shawna Tavakoli, also a Marshall student, said she wanted the convenience of getting the pass at school. "I like that. As it is, I have to go find a store that sells bus coupons and it takes forever."

It’s not clear if the pass will become available, but the Bus Riders Union, a local group that has fought for better bus riding conditions, is inviting students to join in pressuring the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to offer the new pass. Cynthia Rojas of the Bus Riders Union said that the changes would give teens a lot more freedom; they wouldn’t have to depend on walking or getting a ride from parents to get around. Transportation to the beach or the library wouldn’t be so difficult, she added.

She encouraged students to get involved with this campaign by calling the Bus Riders Union at (213) 387-2800 or going to their Web site www.BusRidersUnion.org. The Bus Riders Union is a project of the Labor/Community Strategy Center, which is a Los Angeles-based, nonprofit group that has worked to help improve conditions in urban areas.

"It is really important, especially for young people, to make change when something isn’t right or just, and I encourage them to get involved. They show the power they have when they organize themselves to put pressure on the government, which should be serving them," Rojas said.

Ed Scannell, an MTA spokesman, said only the MTA board members could say whether there will be a $10 bus pass. He stressed that the MTA had not raised its prices in seven years and that the prices are fair. He also said students were lucky that at least there is some type of student bus pass.