Senator Newman Introduces Bill to Extend Eligibility for Student Transit Fare Subsidies

Tuesday, February 13 2018

Sacramento, CA – Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) today introduced legislation aimed at reducing traffic congestion and parking issues near colleges and universities by expanding eligibility for transit subsidies to more students.  Senate Bill (SB) 1119 will revise the eligibility requirements for Low Carbon Transit Operation Program (LCTOP) funds to allow more student and other low-income residents to qualify for free or reduced transit fares. The resulting increase in ridership could reduce congestion and parking issues in the areas around community colleges and state universities.

“SB 1119 will support two important steps towards reducing traffic congestion and thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Orange County and across the state,” said the bill’s author, Senator Josh Newman. “By revising the eligibility requirements for transit fare subsidies, many more college students will be able to use public transit at a reduced rate. SB 1119 will also ensure that a rider eligible for subsidized fares will be able to make the complete trip to work or school, even when that trip entails a transfer outside of the current eligibility zones.  This will have the dual benefit of expanding use of mass transit while simultaneously reducing the chronic strain on the streets and parking lots around California’s community colleges and public universities.”

The LCTOP is one of several programs created and funded by the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) under California’s groundbreaking Cap and Trade program. LCTOP was originally created with the goal of providing capital assistance to allow transit agencies to do their part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by improving mobility through expanded mass transit adoption and usage. One of the ways in which they can do that is to provide transit subsidies to low-income residents, many of which are students.

“OCTA believes that transportation should not be a barrier to educational achievement and partnering with colleges on transit pass programs is an innovative way to ensure our students can be successful,” said Orange County Transportation Authority CEO Darrell Johnson. “SB 1119 will provide agencies throughout the state the flexibility to maximize the benefits from cap-and-trade funds.”

OCTA has helped students from Santa Ana benefit from and take advantage of LCTOP as those students have been deemed eligible for subsidized fares. Many other Orange County students and residents could similarly benefit from the program but do not meet the current eligibility requirements, because they do not live directly in what the LCTOP defines as a Disadvantaged Community (DAC). 

Moreover, due to the current prohibition on subsidized transfers outside an eligibility zone, students and low-income residents who do reside in DACs face difficulties which serve to discourage their use of public transit, thereby undermining one of the primary goals of LCTOP.  By expanding the eligibility definition and allowing for bus transfers outside of a DAC, Newman’s bill will encourage mass transit while improving some of the congestion and parking problems around community colleges and state universities.

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Senator Josh Newman represents the 29th Senate District, which includes cities across Orange, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino Counties.