MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) will expand its transit ridership program, replacing yellow buses for eligible high school students beginning next school year.
SBF reported in October that MPS was considering the transit shift. On Friday, the district issued an announcement confirming the move, which is in partnership with Metro Transit.
About 2,500 transportation-eligible students who attend the Edison, Henry, North, Roosevelt, Washburn and Wellstone high schools will be able to ride transit buses and light rail trains to and from school with Go-To Student Passes.
To accommodate budget and staffing capacity, the South and Southwest high schools will join the program in the 2013-14 school year.
District officials said that the Go-To Student Pass program "offers academic scheduling flexibility and greater access to the wide variety of learning opportunities at school and within the community, such as academic programs, athletics, jobs and other activities beyond the school day."
A current three-year Metro Transit/MPS pilot program has reportedly already shown improvements in student attendance and retention, a major academic reform focus of MPS Superintendent Dr. Bernadeia Johnson. Nearly 900 students at seven MPS high schools are currently enrolled in the pilot program.
“We are pleased to expand the Go-To Student Pass program to provide more students with greater access to school, community resources and real-world learning,” Johnson said. “Metro Transit has been a terrific partner that is committed to helping our students, including those who are homeless and highly mobile and those with limited transportation resources, reach their goals by expanding access to opportunities throughout the metro area.”
Go-To Student Passes will allow high school riders access to buses and trains from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m., seven days a week, for trips to and from school as well as other destinations.
The pass will be integrated with students’ school identification cards and will be managed by Check and Connect, an MPS program that monitors student attendance and truancy.
Officials said that to better accommodate student riders, Metro Transit will make operational changes that include adjusting some bus routes to connect directly with schools, allocating extra buses during peak school travel hours, expanding east-west cross-town service and providing customized maps and other resources for students, families and schools.
"Student trip patterns will be regularly monitored through Go-To Student Pass usage to optimize service levels," the district announcement said. "In addition, students will receive information about proper transit-riding etiquette, sign a code of conduct and learn about the consequences of misbehavior."
Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb said the program "will take advantage of existing regular route transit service to connect more students with important learning resources throughout our region."
Officials noted that the MPS Office of Emergency Management, Safety and Security; Metro Transit Police; and the Minneapolis Police Department are working collaboratively "to ensure that students’ riding safety is a top priority."