The Victor Valley Transit Authority Board of Directors voted Monday to fund the Victor Valley College Ram Pass pilot program, reinstating the free student bus pass until January 2015, when a sustainable VVC transportation fee is expected to take effect.
Effective immediately, any VVC student can ride all VVTA Regional, County and Deviated Routes for free by presenting a valid VVC ID or ASB card. VVTA’s Route 15, BV-Link, NTC Commuter, ADA Direct Access and vanpools are excluded.
“In such an economically-challenges environment, when so many are competing for jobs, education provides a critical advantage that members of our community need to improve employment opportunities, “ said VVTA Board Chair, Angela Valles. “With students commuting as many as 50-miles roundtrip to earn the educational opportunity VVC provides, it is easy to realize how critical VVTA has become in uplifting the value of the High Desert workforce.”
The Ram Pass pilot program was originally funded through a grant from the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District in July 2013. Partnering with the Victor Valley College Foundation, VVTA wrote the grant with the goal of establishing a permanently-sustainable program through a student transportation fee, which was passed by a majority student vote during a special election in early May.
By end of program in July, ASB had yet to present the initiative to the VVC Board of Trustees for approval and enactment. To avoid a lapse, VVTA extended the program until the start of the fall semester September 1, when the program expired.
VVC Board of Trustees and staff began working with the VVTA toward an immediate resolution, resulting in a unanimous board vote September 9, approving the transportation fee. Subsequently, the VVTA Board of Directors voted just six days later on September 15, to continue the program unfunded until the student transportation fee is enacted January 2015.
“The Ram Pass program has reduced traffic congestion through Bear Valley Road, reduced stress on VVC’s overcrowded parking lots, and improved air quality though this collaborative Mojave Desert ir Quality Management District effort.” said VVTA Mobility Manager, Aaron Moore. “Though, the greatest impact we have seen emerge from this program is the life opportunities there were once more challenging to attain due to the high cost of transportation inherent with our sparsely populated region.”
VVTA provided 288,181 trips to VVC students during the extended pilot period, accounting for 12 percent of the rider trips. Students from all High Desert schools account for 55% of VVTA rider trips.
VVTA joins a growing list of Southern California transit agencies where similar programs have been established with colleges and universities, including California State University San Bernardino, Chaffey College, Fullerton College, Saddleback College, Cal Baptist University and UC Riverside.