Youth Mobility Fund partners are pleased to announce that Youth Mobility bus passes will once again be honored during all Metro operations hours beginning the morning of Monday, February 3. This concludes the pause that has been in effect for the passes between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. on weekdays.
Students will continue to use their school-issued ID cards that have been validated with a sticker and opt-in form through the end of this school year, a system that was put in place in November 2019 to address technical limitations of the initial bus cards. The opt-in forms can be turned in to the administration office at the four schools (Norrix, Central, Phoenix, and KILP) for a validation sticker until June 1. Passes remain valid until new cards with improved technology are issued next school year.
The founding program partners, Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS), City of Kalamazoo, and Metro, as well as new program partner, the Kalamazoo Youth Development Network (KYD Network) are committed to the original vision of the program, “To get young people where they need to go in Kalamazoo so they can get where need to go in life.”
The program partners encourage everyone in the community to help support a positive rider experience on Metro buses and to contact Metro directly by telephone or email for the most current and complete answers to concerns or questions.
A Growing Partnership
The partners are taking major steps to improve the program by building and deepening relationships in the community. “We started out thinking this was just about transportation but learned quickly that it is really about youth development in a larger sense,” said Steve Brown, Coordinator of the program’s supporter, The Foundation for Excellence. Brown went on to say, “KYD Network stepped up to offer vision and leadership around centering youth input, including organizing a Youth Mobility Affinity Group to meet moving forward.” The first meeting attracted 42 people, mostly students, providing feedback and ideas on the program. Future meetings are announced through the KYD Network’s Facebook page and elsewhere. The partners will focus their attention on gathering input, expanding outreach, and implementing program improvements over several coming months.
Youth Mobility by the Numbers
Since the beginning of full operations in August 2019, over 120,000 trips have been taken on Metro buses by 9 through 12 grade students at Loy Norrix, Kalamazoo Central, Phoenix, and Kalamazoo Innovative Learning Program (KILP). This represents 12% of all Metro ridership. A non-scientific online survey of young riders conducted by Metro this winter received over 1,000 responses, with approximately 70% coming from Central and 30% from Loy Norrix. Approximately 50% responded that they used the bus pass, with 64% using it for after school activities, sports, and tutoring; 37% to travel to and from work; 31% to travel to and from school. Over 50% students reporting using the pass multiple times daily.