OPAL and YEJA would like to thank our allies and partners for their support in working towards securing YouthPass for East Portland youth. We celebrate the successful implementation of the YouthPass program for the 2017-2018 school year at David Douglas High School and Parkrose High School. This year alone, over 1,300 students received access to public transportation, allowing them to get to school on time, access employment, get more involved in leadership opportunities, and obtain mental health resources that they otherwise would not have.
It is essential to highlight that the YouthPass program is not included in the budget for the City of Portland for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, with no secure plan towards the long term sustainability of the program. This perpetuates a longstanding lack of investment in East Portland – where more than 25% of Portland residents live, but where Portland’s public investment is far less. Without support from the City of Portland, Parkrose School District and David Douglas School District are unable to provide passes for their students for the entirety of the school year. This leaves over a thousand East Portland youth – many of whom are youth of color and from low-income families – without equal access to public transportation.
Building on almost 21 years of advocacy beginning with Sisters in Action for Power, youth of color in our region continue to fight for that access. We believe in our vision of a sustainably-funded YouthPass, with TriMet taking full responsibility over and expanding the program to all school districts within the TriMet service area. YouthPass provides youth access to opportunity, providing a critical lifeline for all young people to access the city in which they live.
The City has not independently studied or reported on the cost of YouthPass, and stakeholder meetings with representatives from schools and TriMet did not take place. While the Mayor continues to call last year a “transitional year,” for YouthPass, these action items that the City promised for last year were not completed.
We will continue to push TriMet to take on the YouthPass program, to ensure a long term and sustainable fareless transit program for high school youth in the city of Portland and across the region. Declining transit ridership, increased congestion, and high levels of toxic climate pollution demand an intersectional solution. TriMet must step up for our region’s youth, and the health of our communities and our planet.
Take action: get involved in our ongoing advocacy for YouthPass! As part of our long term strategy we will work to secure YouthPass through funding from the 2017 legislative session. TriMet currently has approximately $37 million in unallocated state funding. We envision some of this funding to support youth transit access. Attend a “Listening Session” and elevate youth access transit as a priority for the future of our public transportation system. RSVP by email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the date of the session that you can attend.
Listening Session Dates:
Thursday, May 31
Legacy Emanuel Hospital
Lorenzen Conference Center
2801 N Gantenbein Ave., Portland
Tuesday, June 5
TEAM Events Center
9201 SE Foster Rd., Portland
You can also put yourself on the waitlist for the “Future Transit Improvements Workshop” on May 24 here.