Healthy Success for Student Transit
School-age children around Oregon need better transportation options. Students in urban areas can’t always to take transit to school when they miss the school bus, and students in rural areas have difficulty participating in sports and other after-school activities without activity buses. Some students can’t meet with a tutor after school because they don’t have a way home. And due to limited transportation options, some students are chronically late or absent, fall behind, and simply drop out of school altogether.
During the 2018 legislative session, Oregon Environmental Council worked with OPAL Environmental Justice to successfully advocate for two bills to improve student transportation statewide.
- HB 4059 dedicates at least 1% of new public transit funds raised by the 2017 transportation package to helping students get where they need to go, expanding student transportation options statewide.
- HB 4130 is a technical fix to allow transit buses to move students without requiring a complicated waiver process. The bill also creates a grant fund with a 50% match that school districts with transit access can use for bus passes and rural districts can use for activity buses. This ensures that both urban and rural students will benefit.
Today’s students need this flexibility–they attend college classes, they have after-school jobs, and a myriad of other activities that are important for their success. Transit passes have been linked to increased attendance; and students that currently enjoy transit passes rave about them and how having them has improved their quality of life.
Better transportation options also reduce idling and congestion around schools because fewer parents need to drive their children. This improves air quality and reduces pollution that contributes to climate change.
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 Reps. Williamson, Lively and 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’s next generation!