Calif. transit, college partner for free rides

Posted on September 22, 2014

Calif.’s Victor Valley Transit Authority (VVTA) board of directors voted to fund the Victor Valley College (VVC) Ram Pass pilot program, reinstating the free student bus pass until January 2015, when a sustainable VVC transportation fee is expected to take effect.

Effective immediately, any VVC student can ride all VVTA regional, county and deviated routes for free by presenting a valid VVC ID or ASB Card. VVTA’s Route 15, BV-Link, NTC Commuter, ADA Direct Access and vanpools are excluded.

“In such an economically-challenged environment, when so many are competing for jobs, education provides a critical advantage that members of our community need to improve employment opportunities,” said VVTA Board Chair Angela Valles. “With students commuting as many as 50-miles roundtrip to earn the educational opportunity VVC provides, it is easy to realize how critical VVTA has become in uplifting the value of the High Desert workforce.”

The Ram Pass pilot program was originally funded through a grant from the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District in July 2013. Partnering with the Victor Valley College Foundation, VVTA wrote the grant with the goal of establishing a permanently-sustainable program through a student transportation fee, which was passed by a majority student vote during a special election in early May.

By end of program in July, ASB had yet to present the initiative to the VVC Board of Trustees for approval and enactment. To avoid a lapse, VVTA extended the program until start of fall semester Sept. 1, when the program expired.

VVC board of trustees and staff began working with VVTA toward an immediate resolution, resulting in a unanimous board vote approving the transportation fee. Subsequently, the VVTA board of directors voted to continue the program unfunded until the student transportation fee is enacted January 2015.

VVTA provided 288,181 trips to VVC students during the extended pilot period, accounting for 12% of rider trips. Students from all High Desert schools account for 55% percent of VVTA rider trips.

VVTA joins a growing list of Southern California transit agencies where similar programs have been established with colleges and universities, including California State University San Bernardino, Chaffey College, Fullerton College, Saddleback College, Cal Baptist University and UC Riverside.

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