By Andy Damián Correa
As public transportation costs in the bay area rise, City College students question how much longer they will be able to afford transportation to school without subsidized transportation passes.
According to San Francisco Metro Transit Authority’s (SFMTA) fare table, the cost of an Adult “M” Monthly Pass will increase from $75 in fiscal year (FY) 2018 to $85 in FY20. The cost of an Adult “A” Monthly Pass, which includes the use of BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) in San Francisco, will increase from $94 to $98 by FY20.
Amos Shiela, a Psychology major who commutes between Ocean campus and the greater bay area four times a week, said “I catch BART everyday and it costs me $15 dollars, over $200 per month, not including MUNI. Lower rates for BART will benefit students at City College.”
Currently, transit passes are accessible through several programs including Extended Opportunity Program & Services (EOPS), California Work Opportunities and Responsibility to Kids (CALWORKS), Guardian Scholars and Homeless At-Risk Transitional Students (HARTS) according to Associate Vice Chancellor Elizabeth Coria at the September 19 City College Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting.
Between 2018-2019, exactly 944 Clipper cards were distributed to students through the EOPS program. The same year, the Guardian Scholars program distributed 30 Muni and/or BART passes and the HARTS program provided students with 240 passes.
In 2015, the Office of Student Equity provided students with 625 Clipper cards by using one-time funding of approximately $400,000 to purchase a total of 4,000 cards. The remaining cards were completely distributed by June 30, 2019, according Dr. Coria.
“City College provides transit benefits wherever it can, but it is not fiscally feasible for the college to subsidize transit for all. The College is committed to finding a way to make free and/or discounted transit passes to our students” said Chief of Staff and Office of the Chancellor Leslie Milloy.
Other colleges in the bay area such as the University of San Francisco (USF), University of California San Francisco (UCSF), and San Francisco State University (SFSU) charge students transportation fees alongside tuition.
“SFSU, USF, and the Conservatory of Music participate in our “Class Pass” program. Muni usage is estimated for the entire school and the cost is allocated across all students. Every student is required, as part of their registration, to pay this fee, regardless of if they use Muni. The current fee is approximately $125 per semester.” said San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s (SFMTA) chief spokesperson, Paul Rose.
“City College can become a participant in this program, but it would require a referendum from the student body to approve adopting this additional fee” said Rose.
In Aug. 2017, a collaboration between BART and SFSU established the Higher Education Fare Discount Program (HEDP) which offers subsidized rates for students at colleges and universities.
Students from participating schools use a school-specific Clipper card to get the discount, the cost of which is reimbursed to BART through transit fees paid by the student body or the school.
According to BART’s website, the “discount is a percentage amount off of the regular fare. For example, if the regular fare is $2.00, and the discount is 25%, then the student would pay a discounted fare of $1.50.”
Alicia Trost, BART’s communications department manager said that while individual students have reached out about the HEDP, administrators have not.
“We have told the individual students who have asked, that school administrators would need to be involved to make the program work,” said Trost.
During the September 19 BOT Student Success and Policy Committee meeting, Chancellor Mark Rocha said he was not familiar with the need for student transit passes.
“I do know that we are trying to implement a program similar to San Francisco State University’s Transit cards. They are not free in that students pay through registration fees, but they do provide a discount on BART and access to MUNI” said Trustee Brigitte Davila.
Trustee Shanel Williams said “This has been a work in progress for some time that we need to do in collaboration with other college districts in the area. It a multi-step process that I know all the trustees are interested in reengaging in now that we have secure accreditation and a more stable administrative team.”
City College’s Student Trustee, Bryan Daley, was unavailable for comment.