La Sierra University students can now (as I previously reported) use their student ID cards as a free bus pass on all RTA buses. They join RCC and UCR students in the RTA's UPass program, which is modeled on successful similar programs all over the country and globe. I think this is an excellent thing, that focuses on two social problems at once. First off, it provides access to college in a way that's affordable. I spend enough on books and tuition every quarter to have to toss in gas and a parking permit, so having a free bus ride to school just plain makes things easier. Making college more affordable ought to be on everyone's mind (though I think the RCC program does this better than the one at the expensive, private La Sierra U, but I digress).
Second, and more importantly, these programs make a significant investment in the future of transit. They get young people (many of whom have never been on a bus- trust me, I see them everyday) out of their cars and used to using timetables, bus passes, stops and the yellow strip of tape between the window to make the bell ring. They get used to making transfers, scheduling their trips, and the whole way that public transit actually works. Sure, most of them probably won't end up being riders for life, but many of them just might. UPass is training the next generation of bus riders, so the more UPass there is, the better.