Youth Transit Initiative: A Win for Youth, Family Pocketbooks and the Environment

Oregon Environmental Council is supporting a Youth Transit Initiative. This initiative will help high-school-aged youth get to extracurricular activities, employment and educational opportunities through better access to transit. It will foster an appreciation of transit at an early age. And it will help clean the air through fewer automobile trips and less traffic congestion around schools.

Oregon Youth Face Transportation Barriers
Yellow school buses get students to and from school, but they do not help students access broader opportunities that foster success in life. Some students can’t participate in sports or other after-school activities, such as tutoring, because they don’t have a way home. For some kids, an after-school job is a necessity, and transit access helps them contribute to their family’s income. Other youth can’t access essential social services that contribute to their health and stability. And due to limited transportation options, some students are chronically late or absent, fall behind, and simply drop out of school altogether.

Public Transit Can Help Youth Succeed
Oregon Environmental Council and our allies at Transportation for Oregon’s Future* are asking the state to fund a grant program that will help transit agencies provide free or reduced-price transit passes to youth and increase transit service to meet youth’s transportation needs.

  • Good for kids: This initiative will help high school students get to and from school and to weekend and evening educational opportunities, extracurricular activities, jobs, social services and recreation. By offering an alternative to the school bus, it will help kids avoid being tardy or absent from school.
  • Good for families: This initiative will reduce the burden on working parents to take time off to transport their kids and will reduce their transportation costs. It will particularly help kids in families that can’t afford a car or families where one car serves many family members.
  • Good for the environment and public health. This initiative will reduce idling and congestion around schools because fewer parents will need to drive their children. It will encourage physical activity as more students walk to and from transit. And it will improve air quality and reduce pollution that contributes to climate change.
  • Good for transit agencies. This initiative will help transit agencies fund increased transit service to meet youth transportation needs, service that will benefit any resident who takes that route. It will also give young people a positive transit experience, creating the next generation of riders.
  • Good for our economy: Oregon employees need a skilled work force: this initiative will increase school attendance, performance and graduation rates. In addition, lower transportation costs for households translate into more spending on local goods and services.

The Youth Transit Initiative is based on a successful model. A defunct state tax credit funded free transit passes for youth and was successfully utilized by TriMet, Cherriots (serving Salem-Keizer), and Lane Transit District (serving Eugene-Springfield). TriMet has worked with local partners to keep its YouthPass program going at a minimal level without this funding, but students outside of Portland Public School District are losing out.

Oregon Environmental Council forwards solutions that not only meet environmental goals, but also support a sustainable economy and social equity. The Youth Transit Initiative is a perfect example. Learn more about OEC’s broader transportation agenda here.


*Transportation for Oregon’s Future is a network of concerned organizations, businesses, and citizen leaders supporting transportation choices for the 21st century. Steering committee members include 1000 Friends of Oregon, Better Eugene Springfield Transit, OPAL Environmental Justice, Oregon Environmental Council, Oregon League of Conservation Voters, The Street Trust and Transportation for America.

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2 Replies to "Youth Transit Initiative: A Win for Youth, Family Pocketbooks and the Environment"

  • Oregon Environmental Council | It’s Almost Spring! Legislative Update from OEC
    March 19, 2018 (8:02 pm)

    […] Youth Transit Initiative—HB 2979  The House Committee on Transportation & Economic Development held a hearing on youth transit on March 11, hearing perspectives from youth, social justice, health, environmental interests and more. From an environmental perspective, if fewer parents need to drive their kids to and from school, it will reduce idling around schools (which contributes to poor air quality) and will reduce carbon pollution. In addition, when kids are exposed to public transit early in life, they are more likely to become life-long riders. We’re pleased to say that the Chair is pulling together a work group to see how this important issue can be addressed. […]

  • Oregon Environmental Council | 2015 health + environment policy
    March 26, 2018 (4:28 pm)

    […] easier for people to weave exercise into their lives with safe bike, walk and ride options? A new youth transit initiative (HB 2979) could help, as well as maintaining transportation funds for bicycle and pedestrian […]