Metro consideres free or discounted fares for students

The Metro executive board has approved an exploratory measure which would gauge the feasibility of offering free or discounted TAP cards for students in the Los Angeles Community College District.

The Metro Orange Line, which travels between Canoga Park and North Hollywood, has two stops on Victory Blvd. directly adjacent to Pierce College, one at Winnetka Ave. and one at De Soto Ave. A TAP card loaded with valid fare is required to board the Orange Line bus, with each trip costing $1.75. In the past, discounted passes were offered to students but those programs are now defunct.

Veronica Kogut of the Business Office said she doesn’t know anything about TAP cards being free or cheaper for students, and that students will have to fill out a form online to see if they qualify for a free TAP card.

“We haven’t sold any TAP cards here for years, the students would have to check the Metro website,” Kogut said.

Sarah Rosenberg, a Pierce student, was eligible to receive a free TAP card but said the transportation costs for students are unfair.

“It’s not fair students have to pay for transportation,” Rosenberg said. “Students should be able to have access to transportation like the Metro.”

Pierce College student Ella Plotkin said she used to ride the Metro, but now drives to campus. Plotkin said she is willing to take the metro to school instead of driving her car.

“If [Metro is] going to provide the service for community college students, I’m definitely willing to take the metro instead of driving my car,” Plotkin said. “That would save me time and money.”

The fare requirements are enforced with random spot checks. Conductors and enforcement officers ensure passengers have paid for their ticket or pass, and failing to pay the fare can result in a fine.

Omar Gonzalez is a third-year Pierce College student and takes the Metro because it’s close to his home and he can get to school quickly and easily. Gonzalez said he’d like to see fares discounted for college students.

“Some of us have to worry about how we have to pay for our books and tuition. Using the bus just adds more money issues. College is not cheap, everyone knows that,” Gonzalez said. “We can save the money and use it on more important things like books and school supplies.”

To qualify for the $43 college/vocational TAP card monthly pass, students must provide proof of enrollment in 12 or more units and fill out an online application.

Kristen Van Hala is the executive assistant to the LACCD interim vice chancellor of educational programs and institutional effectiveness. Van Hala said there is no decision yet regarding the discounted or free TAP cards for community college students, and there won’t be any decisions or progress within the coming months.