Courtesy of Paul Kimo-McGregor via Flickr

After experiencing significant success with the Student Adventure Pass (SAP) Program, the Metrolink, Southern California’s regional passenger rail service, decided to extend their pilot program, allowing anyone with a valid student ID to ride Metrolink trains for free through the end of the 2023-24 academic year.

The SAP Program initially launched in October 2023 and was planned to last for six months. Prior to the establishment of this program, Metrolink used to offer a 25% discount on tickets for students.

Amber Moyers, SAP project manager, shared that in an effort to find a way to offer free rides to students, they were able to locate some funding through the state of California and the Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (LCTOP). Through their endeavors, they managed to receive $3,999,537 from LCTOP, allowing them to increase their student discount from 25% to 100%.

In order to qualify for the grant, Metrolink had to submit an application to the LCTOP. In this application, they had to be specific about the program details, describing how it would be launched and how they would provide ticketing to students.

According to student metrics collected by Metrolink, over 24,000 individual students have registered for the SAP on the mobile app, and they have activated the pass over 175,000 times. Moyers elaborates that UCR specifically has “over 2,500 students that have used a Student Adventure Pass at least once, which is more than any other school across the system.”

A positive outcome of the SAP program is how it helps combat climate change. Moyers explains how when students take public transport like the Metrolink during their academic years, they are more likely to continue taking public transport when they enter the workforce after graduation, and by doing so make “a huge difference when it comes to environmental factors here in Southern California.”

One of the main motivators behind extending the pilot program till the end of the academic year is due to the popular support Metrolink received from student riders. “It’s been great seeing many students take it. We’re really happy to be able to help students access higher education. And it’s not just to get to school, you can use it for school, work, leisure travel on the weekend,” Moyers shares.

By repurposing funding from a previous program that they had received LCTOP funding for, Metrolink was able to redirect the funding toward the SAP program, extending it for an additional six months. However, in order to extend the program into the next fiscal year, Metrolink will be reapplying for the LCTOP grant again, as well as working with other member agencies.

Students interested in learning more about Metrolink’s services can access the UCR Transportation Services website. Students with questions regarding the Student Adventure Pass can contact Metrolink directly through their customer service page.