OEC - Oregon Environmental Council

03/08/2018 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 03/08/2018 20:18

Healthy Success for Student Transit

School-age children around Oregon currently face an inflexible system when it comes to transit options. Students in urban areas don't always have funding for taking the bus or MAX, and students in rural areas have difficulty getting to school functions without after-school activity buses.

Our work during the 2018 State Legislative Assembly included successfully advocating for two bills to help with improving student transportation access statewide.

One bill, HB 4059 was a follow up from the 2017 transportation package that directed at least 1% of new funding to helping students get where they need to go, expanding student transit services statewide.

The other, HB 4130, passed unanimously in both chambers in the 2018 session. This bill is a technical fix will allow transit buses to move students without requiring a complicated waiver process. The the bill also creates a grant fund with a 50% match that school districts with transit access will be able to use for bus passes and rural districts can use for activity buses. This fund will give more options to other districts more equitably across our state.

Today's students need this flexibility - they attend college classes, they have after-school jobs and a myriad of activities. Transit passes have been linked to increased attendance and students that currently enjoy transit passes rave about them and how it's improved their quality of life.

Oregon Environmental Council served on the work group that created this policy and we are proud to see it pass. Thank you to Rep. Caddy McKeown, who spearheaded the effort and brought it across the finish line after two years of conversations. Special thanks also to Rep. Jennifer Williamson, Rep. John Lively and Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer for starting the conversation with bills they introduced in 2015. Much of the credit belongs to our partners at OPAL Environmental Justice and their YEJA (Youth Environmental Justice Alliance) program, who have been campaigning on this issue for years and brought passionate students to the Capitol to testify on the bills.

One small change making a big difference in the lives of Oregon next generation!

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