Sunday, August 2, 2009

Welcome, Cal Baptist!

According to August's Rider News, students at California Baptist University will be included in the U-Pass progam starting on August 18th. They join UCR, RCC and La Sierra University students in receiving free bus rides with a swipe of their ID card.

This is exactly the sort of thing RTA should be working on. Extending transit access to these student populations has numerous benefits. First, it will increase ridership. Second, it will save students money on parking and transportation costs, and save schools money on parking lots. Third, though, and I think this is important, is that it will get young adults in the habit of taking public transportation. Many suburbanite students have perhaps never ridden a bus before. Familiarizing them with routes, schedules and bus ettiquette may allow some of them to keep riding long after college.

I also want to point out that U-Pass is a substantial improvement over discounted pass schemes, like UCR's former half-price pass or the new UCI quarter pass that's replacing OCTA's U-Pass there. These programs are better than nothing, but only students who already ride will use them. Putting a universal pass in the hands of every student upon admission allows for incidental trips. If you had to spend money out-of-pocket for transit, you're less likely to use it than if you can simply swipe and go. Considering the transit agency is reimbursed for these trips, universal transit passes are absolutely the right way to go.

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