THE ASK: $2 million to expand the unlimited bus and rail component of the School Transit Subsidy program (i.e., Kids Ride Free) to all District residents enrolled in publicly funded adult education programs.
While the Council has made progress towards expanding the program by introducing the Adult Learners Transit Subsidy Amendment Act of 2017, our ask needs to be funded in this budget cycle to ensure adult learners and re-engaging youth receive transportation support in the next year. We are requesting that the expansion is legislated through this year’s Budget Support Act to ensure the program is adequately legislated and funded.
NOW: Why additional transportation funding matters to youth, and why we believe it is a sound investment in FY18
- Significant Financial Burden: Re-engaging youth and adult learners balance many competing demands to prioritize their return to school. Unlike students under age 22—who have free Metro and bus transportation through Kids Ride Free—students aged 22+ pay the full price. In 2016, a DCAYA survey of re-engaging youth ages 22-24 found that 83% of respondents were spending approximately one-fifth or more of their income getting to and from their programs. Such high spending on transportation means there’s less money available for students to keep themselves and their families financially stable.
- Undermines DC’s second-chance system: Expanding the program with $2 million stands to leverage the District’s current investment of over $80 million in local and federal dollars to support educational instruction for adult learners. If students cannot afford to get to class, they can’t fully benefit from these investments in their success. DCAYA’s survey also found 21% of surveyed youth 22-24 missed class 3 or more times a month due to insufficient transportation funds. Most programs are less than 40 weeks long, so these youth missed 13% of their program’s total class time because they could not afford to get there.
- The Problem Will Get Worse: Metro will move forward with a fare hike in July. Currently, taking the bus to class can cost a student $70 per month. The $0.25 bus fare hike will add $10 to that monthly expense. With many DC households living on less than $10,000 a year, transportation costs for just one person could consume 10 percent of a family’s limited income.
- The Expansion Leverages Existing Policy: Through Kids Ride Free, DDOT and WMATA have negotiated a contractually-bound daily rate for each pupil of $0.65. Therefore, the cost of providing transportation assistance through Kids Ride Free is likely to be much more cost effective than other ways of funding such a program.
- Please sign up to testify at the Budget Hearing for the District Department of Transportation on Monday, April 24, 2017 at 11 am in Room 500 of the John A. Wilson Building at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
- To sign up to testify, please email Aukima Benjamin at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-724-8062.
- Whether or not you can testify at the hearing, please email, call, and/or tweet your Councilmember(s) in support of our ask using the hashtag #KeepStudentsOnTrack. For sample tweets, scripts and Council contact information, check these out: Transportation Email, Call, & Tweet Scripts.
And in case you missed it, here's our Actions for Budget Advocacy - Week 2 email for more ways to get involved this budget season!