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Assemblymember Holden Introduces Free Youth Transit Access Legislation

For immediate release:

Sacramento, CA – Today, Assemblymember Chris Holden introduced AB 610, Youth Transit Pass Pilot Program: free youth transit passes, which would create the Student Transit Pass Pilot Program to fund the development and implementation of fare free transit passes to California students. The bill also requires a report on the program’s outcomes, including whether the program increased transit ridership among student users, to be submitted to the Legislature.

This bill was inspired by Holden’s 2022 transit bill, Assembly Bill 1919, which would have required transit agencies to provide free youth transit passes to youth 25 years or younger.

“As a consequence of job and wage losses tied to the pandemic, the cost of commute, transit, and transportation has become an even larger economic burden on California youth and students,” said Assemblymember Chris Holden.  “With this bill, we are a creating a pathway to success for the students of today by reducing transit barriers.”

Assembly Bill 610 creates the Student Transit Pass Pilot Program, whereby transit agencies may apply for grants for the purpose of creating fare-free transit passes accessible to students within a transit provider’s locality. Additionally, the bill specifies a report must be submitted to the Legislature that assesses whether the program increased transit ridership among student users, how many have created or expanded a transit pass program, and provides recommendations to expand transit pass programs.

“Study after study has shown that the kind of program that AB 610 would create is the most successful way to expand access to fare-free transportation for our youth and help reduce current transportation inequities affecting millions of Californians,” said Eli Lipmen, Deputy Director of Move LA.

A study by the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs found that approximately 8% of youth (18 years old and under) use transit daily, that 25% of youth use it at least monthly, that transit is disproportionately depended upon by individuals age 16-30 and transit use is strongly statistically associated with “student status.” Furthermore, it is increasingly of concern how transit costs relate to educational equity as students without reliable or affordable transit options suffer adverse educational outcomes, according to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. AB 610, would help student access to transit and also increase ridership for struggling transit agencies in the long-term.

“A Student Transit Pass Pilot Program in California will support both enrollment at struggling K-12 and community colleges as well as the recovery of ridership on public transportation—both institutions challenged by the COVID Pandemic,” said Thea Selby, chair of San Francisco Transit Riders

"As a community college student leader and mother of three who does not drive, I know how important it is to get fare-free transit to go to work, to the store, to get to my kids' school & to my own classes. Removing the financial burden of transit expenses means students like me won't have to choose between eating breakfast or catching the bus. Recent studies recognize what we've known all along--transit is a basic need for students across California,” stated Heather Brandt, City College of San Francisco Student Chancellor.