A resolution for free TriMet passes for youth was approved unanimously by the Portland City Council Wednesday.
Mayor Tom Potter and Commissioner Sam Adams co-sponsored the resolution asking TriMet to create a pilot program that would give all sixth through 12th-grade public school students in Multnomah County access to free public transportation.
The "YouthPass Program," spearheaded by the Multnomah Youth Commission (MYC), is designed to address a lack of public school transportation in Portland.
Lack of transportation has been cited as a key reason students miss school, don't participate in after-school activities, and aren't able to find jobs or attend support programs.
Parents driving children to school contribute as much as quarter of morning traffic, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
TriMet, working with local business, education, government and non-profit leaders, will fund the program through the State of Oregon's Business Energy Tax Credit program. Tax credit dollars currently fund free transportation for all sixth through twelfth-grade students in Lane County.
Officials from the State Department of Energy, which administers the tax credit program, have indicated that funding is available for a similar program in Multnomah County.
"A YouthPass program could lower a key barrier for youth participation in school, after school activities and jobs; reduce traffic and create a new generation of TriMet riders for today and tomorrow," Potter says.
"This is a great program not only for youth, but one that has been created by youth," Adams said. "I offer my wholehearted support."
The MYC created the proposal as a key part of the implementation of "Our Bill of Rights: Children & Youth," the nation's first bill of rights created by and for youth and adopted by both city and county governments.
The youth commission worked with TriMet staff and local business, education, government and non-profit leaders, and is urging for a pilot program to be in place by September 2008.
The youth leaders presented the proposal to the TriMet Board of Directors on May 28. Supporters include city, county and state elected officials; the Portland Business Alliance; the Portland, Centennial and Reynolds school districts and local community organizations.
Jack MacNichol, a Grant High School senior and Co-chair of the Multnomah Youth Commission, says, "The MYC is really excited to be working with such a diverse coalition to bring this important resource to the youth of our community."