April 15, 2011
Popular program provides students with unlimited rides on RTA buses
In a landslide vote, students at Mt. San Jacinto College (MSJC) have said yes to extending the popular Go-Pass program, which puts them in a position to get unlimited rides on Riverside Transit Agency (RTA) buses for the next five years.
Eighty-five percent of voting students districtwide approved an initiative that authorized the MSJC board of trustees to implement a $6 fee per semester to subsidize the Go-Pass program, which was slated to end in August when current funding expires. More than 800 students voted during the four-day election, which ended Thursday, and included for the first time on-line voting.
The program’s expansion will not be official until the district’s trustees authorize the fee, which could happen during their May meeting.
“Students have sent a strong message that they value this program and are eager for it to continue,” said RTA Chairman of the Board Bob Buster. “The Go-Pass program has exceeded our expectations and we are pleased that a growing number of students are choosing RTA for their travel needs.”
Launched in August of 2010, the MSJC Go-Pass Program enabled registered students to ride RTA’s fixed-route and CommuterLink buses for free by flashing their student identification cards. A college survey conducted prior to the program’s launch showed that only one-half of 1 percent of MSJC students used the bus, or 103 of the college’s 21,000 students. Since then, ridership has hovered around 20,000 student boardings each month.
“This is a huge victory for RTA and MSJC,” said Menifee Mayor Wallace Edgerton, who helped broker the partnership between the transit agency and college district. “This program will be crucial in taking a bite out of traffic congestion and helping students get around during a time of rising oil prices.”
During the program’s first year, RTA partnered with the cities of Banning, Beaumont, Canyon Lake, Hemet, Lake Elsinore, Menifee, Murrieta, Perris, San Jacinto, Temecula and Wildomar and the County of Riverside to use state air quality improvement funds to fuel the program. Beginning this fall, it could be the students themselves who will subsidize the transit program. The vote wouldn’t have been possible without recent legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Paul Cook (R-Yucca Valley) whose AB 774 allowed all California community colleges to charge students an equal fee to support programs such as the Go-Pass.
MSJC is part of a growing list of colleges and universities offering Go-Pass or U-Pass programs, including UC Riverside, Cal Baptist University, La Sierra University, Moreno Valley College and Riverside City College.