LOS ANGELES, Calif.–Students across Los Angeles County will get free rides on Metro buses and trains for school-sponsored field trips starting early next year, under a program approved by the Metro board.

“It’s so important that teachers continue to pursue enriching educational opportunities off campus, even when school funds are tight,” said MTA board chairman and county Supervisor Don Knabe. “We want our kids to get the best possible education, and it’s our hope that this new program will help.”

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who proposed the program, said it will not increase Metro’s operating costs or reduce revenue.

“Because Metro buses and trains have unused capacity during school hours, making free transit available to students is a win-win policy,” Villaraigosa said.

“By offering our students free transit during field trips, we allow them to take advantage of museums, programs, and a variety of learning experiences that take place outside the classroom,” he added. “In these tough economic times, it is important that we continue giving students many
opportunities to learn, especially for those students who do not have the resources for alternative transportation.”

Councilman Jose Huizar, also a Metro board member, said “Student field trips are a vital part of any good education, showing children all that the world outside their own communities has to offer.”

The free rides will be offered only during non-rush hour periods. Metro staff still needs to determine guidelines for student eligibility, designate days and hours for the program, determine eligible school-organized activities and identify the responsibilities of participating school districts or individual schools.

Schools will have to contact Metro to arrange field trip transportation.

Santee High School teacher Trebor Jacquez praised the proposal when Villaraigosa unveiled it a few weeks ago, saying students “are missing out on educational experiences because we have no funds to bus them on field trips.”

“Access to Metro rail and buses will open a world of opportunities for learning beyond the classroom,” he said.

Partnership for Los Angeles Schools CEO Marshall Tuck said, “This is an incredible opportunity for our students, many of whom come from low-income families and otherwise might not be able to explore all the learning activities that our city has to offer.”