With the issuance of Youth Mobility Fund passes underway, high school students in Kalamazoo Public Schools can now access afterschool programs, practices, rehearsal, and other activities for free via Metro.
The Youth Mobility Passes offer free and unlimited transportation for KPS high school students on Metro upon issuance through September 1, 2020. To ride the bus, students simply need to present their school-issued student ID and the Youth Mobility Pass, which are issued together in a plastic case.
This is the first year of the program, which is funded by the Foundation for Excellence and a partnership between the City of Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo Public Schools, Metro, and the Kalamazoo Public Library.
The goal of the Youth Mobility Fund is to remove transportation as a barrier for students who wish to pursue extracurricular activities like participating in sports, theatre, study groups, or any of the opportunities that exist for young people in Kalamazoo. The program will be especially valuable for students whose parents don’t have the ability to drive them to or from programs because of work schedules or other commitments.
The first youth to benefit from the Youth Mobility Fund were participants in the MyCITY program, which provides summer employment and career introduction for youth in Kalamazoo (MyCITY also receives funding from the Foundation for Excellence). This year, MyCITY also introduced many participants to public transit: of participants who had never previously used Metro, 53% did as a result of the Youth Mobility Fund. In total, 62% of program participants used the bus pass, with two thirds reporting that they would continue to use Metro.
Feedback from the MyCITY participants was overwhelmingly positive. Riders noted how it helped them get to work through the MyCITY program or to other activities such as open mic events and the Boys & Girls Club. Most participants that didn’t ride Metro said they already had a ride or preferred to walk or bike. Still, they expressed gratitude for the opportunities this has opened for others.
“I had a ride, always; I think it’s a wonderful thing that opened opportunity to those not as lucky as I am.”
The YMF partners are working closely with Kalamazoo Public Schools to share this new opportunity with students. For more information on this project, please visit www.kmetro.com/youthmobility or call (269) 337-8233.