Youth Bus Pass: Renewal and Energy Through Local Action

Trimet Youth Passes Saved

The Trimet youth bus pass has been renewed for one more year.  For those of you who haven’t been following the story, the City of Portland has, for the past few years, subsidized student bus passes for local high school students, making quick and easy access to school (and to field trips, cultural events, etc.) more affordable for young people.  This program has been up on the chopping block a few times; most recently, Mayor Hales expressed concern that the program costs more than it benefits.

In the big scheme of things, this bus pass program may seem like a small thing, but access to school and to free transportation is a big deal when it comes to educational equity.  And public outcry against a cut to this program made no small impact on the reversal of plans to do away with these bus passes.

A Letter to the Mayor & Reflection on Small Acts of Advocacy

A winter 2013 Portland State University Capstone student, Heidi Kent, raised her own voice in protest to the cuts with this letter to Mayor Hales and eloquently linked this bus pass program to both sustainability in our city AND to equity for all students.  She also wrote the following in her end-of-term reflection (shared with her permission):

I have found that personal letters usually are read and shared, and that if leaders receive enough of the same opinions, it will cause them to at least think twice about it. I connected my hands-on and classroom learning about barriers to access to write this letter. There are already so many barriers for underprivileged youth, and it really makes no sense to add another one that makes it hard for kids to even physically get to school in the first place. What about families that can’t pay for a pass? What about families that don’t have cars? What about families that live far away from school? These kids are going to be left out, and are already at risk for dropping out anyway. I would like to continue to write more letters to our mayor and other leaders to let them know that people do care about the decisions that they make. I want them to feel accountable for their decisions, and I think writing them personally will help them reflect on what the community thinks of them. 

This reflection should give us all great hope and should inspire us to act. Doing small things and doing big things to support our community are both important.  Write letters when issues matter to you, attend rallies when you want to be counted as a supporter, show up to meetings when the authorities need to know that we’re holding them accountable.  Keep reading about the issues that matter to you.  Keep talking to community members about what’s impacting them and how.  

What small acts of advocacy have you done lately?  How might you fit more of these into your daily life?

 

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