MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County Schools will now offer free MATA bus passes to high school students in need of rides, not only to school but also around town.
The application just opened Monday and already the district is seeing a big need.
The idea was student-driven. A conversation that started when SCS students were asked last year how to improve the school experience. Transportation to and from school made the list.
“As a school board member our goal is to make sure that we can advocate on behalf of students and this is one way the school board is able to help,” said Kevin Woods, SCS School Board Member.
The district found the funds in the budget to purchase 3,000 year-long bus passes for high school students in need to help not only getting to school, but also to work or after school programs.
Not only will 3,000 students will receive the year-long bus passes from SCS, but also their guardians.
“While the district was able to provide funding for the students, MATA has pitched in and said, ‘you know what, if the students are having transportation challenges the parent may be having challenges as well.’ So we think it’s a huge win for the community,” said Woods.
Already 1,200 high school students from across the district have applied.
“We see this as not only a transportation issue, but it’s a workforce issue. It’s an economic development issue. Because when students have an opportunity to get transportation, they have the option to go to work. They are able to take advantage of after school programs. They are able to go to community centers,” said Woods.
The district's hope is to grow the program in the years to come if the need is there.
Woods says MATA is committed to improving routes and time to help with the need of all riders, including students.
A MATA spokesperson told us, "Public transit agencies already play a significant role nationwide in providing transportation to students enrolled in urban education districts. We believe that this program is only the start to improving public transportation access to students and their parents here, and is a key piece to solving the community’s overall mobility needs.”
Passes for students and their guardians will be handed out to those who qualify in September.
Click here to apply for a bus pass.