LBCC to give 1,000 students free bus passes as part of pilot program

In a move that administrators hope will get more students to campus, Long Beach City College Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved a pilot program to provide 700 additional bus passes to disadvantaged and local students.

The program expands on the 300 free passes the college already provides.

“With 1,000 bus passes for LBCC students, we’re helping reduce the cost and a real barrier to accessing higher education,” Trustee Uduak-Joe Ntuk said.

For now, only full-time students in good standing who are in the College Promise program, disabled, disproportionately impacted, in Extended Opportunity Programs and Services, foster youth or veterans are eligible for the free passes.

Those who do not fall into that category can still get a discounted monthly pass for $40  through Long Beach Transit. The current process is “cumbersome,” Vice President of Business Services Marlene Drinkwine told the trustees, and she hopes to be able to streamline the process so students can get the passes through the college once the pilot program is over.

Ntuk said he hopes to expand the pilot program to part-time students and full-time students who aren’t in any particular program.

“This is not the end of the road, this is going to be an expansion of the current program and we still have more to go,” Ntuk said. He said the board’s goal is to expand the program in 2020 after determining through ridership data whether students actually use the program.

While other Los Angeles County community colleges and universities participate in a free or reduced rate U-Pass bus program for their students, LBCC hasn’t quite gotten there yet.

The pilot program will cost the college $150,000 per semester and use one-time funds, Drinkwater said.

LBT is charging LBCC 75 cents per ride and the semester cost is calculated based on an average of 27 rides per month. If students use the passes more or less, the cost will be adjusted accordingly, Drinkwater told the trustees.

In January, administrators will evaluate how many students are actually using the program, how much it is actually costing the college and administrators will examine if they are able to expand the program more.

LBCC officials said they would begin an informational outreach to students leading up to the Fall semester.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify how students can still get the $40 per month pass through Long Beach Transit. 

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Valerie Osier is a breaking news and crime reporter for the Long Beach Post. She’s a Riverside native who found her love for journalism while at community college. She graduated from Cal State University, Long Beach journalism program in 2017 and covered the Palos Verdes Peninsula for the Daily Breeze prior to coming to the Post. She lives in Long Beach with her husband, Steven, and her cat/child, Jones.