Walk, Bike or Ride Back to School with Safe Routes, School Pools and Student TAP

By Anna Chen

Another summer gone, another school year set to begin. Don’t let increased traffic and high gas prices ruin the experience. Metro has solutions that make going back to school easy, including the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Pilot Program, which will help students learn to walk and bike safely to school.

More than 50 percent of children in Los Angeles County are driven to school in private vehicles, despite the fact that the majority of students live within 2 miles of their schools. Parents have cited different reasons for why they chose driving over other options, one being traffic safety: They just don’t think it’s safe for their children to walk or bike to school. However, walking and bicycling are an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle, and being able to start the day with a little physical activity greatly benefits children in many ways.

Metro’s recently launched SRTS Pilot Program will help schools, parents and students develop safe and active travel options. Ten schools within L.A. County have been selected to participate in this SRTS Pilot Program, and Metro is planning workshops and activities with the chosen schools and local communities. SRTS programs exist throughout the nation, and individual programs can be tailored to meet the specific needs of a school, community or city.

As part of the program, Metro will help train walk leaders and provide opportunities for children to learn about pedestrian, bicycle and public transit safety. Metro also will work to make walking and biking to school a positive experience for kids by helping the schools implement Walk/Bike to School Days, hold community and school events and work with the school to develop pedestrian and bicycle travel plans.

The end goal of SRTS is to create an environment where children can get active while getting to school safely. In addition, by encouraging kids to walk or bike to school, SRTS hopes to reduce congestion related to school travel, which will also benefit traffic and air quality in local neighborhoods.

The pilot program is part of a larger effort by Metro, in partnership with the Southern California Association of Governments, to develop a Countywide Safe Routes to School Strategic Plan, which will identify strategies to help cities and local communities establish new SRTS programs. In places where these programs already exist, the strategic plan explores how existing SRTS programs can be sustained and enhanced. For more information, visit metro.net/srts.

If driving is still the best travel option, try carpooling. Metro School Pool alleviates school traffic by providing a free, voluntary and confidential service that helps parents find carpooling partners at participating elementary, middle and high school campuses throughout Los Angeles County. It’s easy to sign up. Just fill out a Metro School Pool Enrollment Form. For schools not currently in the program but interested in joining, there’s the Metro School Pool Interest Form to help them get started. Find both forms and more information at metro.net/about/commute-services.

Then there’s the transit option. K – 12 students can acquire a Student TAP Card to ride Metro to school at reduced rates. Frequent riders will benefit from the Student 30-day Pass. Visit metro.net/riding/fares/ to find out how to get one. There is no charge to get a Student TAP Card!

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