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Mid-City CAN Blog

Council moves no-cost bus passes

Brian Haro and other Mid-City CAN no-cost youth bus pass supporters attend a City Council meeting on June 10. Photo by Adam WardNo-cost bus passes will be a reality for students in City Heights.

On June 10, the City Council approved the annual budget for San Diego, which included funding for the program for students at Crawford, Hoover, Lincoln and San Diego high schools.

The $200,000 funding for the program is a small fraction compared to the total $2.75 billion budget for San Diego's 2013-14 fiscal year. But Mid-City CAN supporters and residents attended three different City Council meetings as well as having a transportation forum attended by Mayor Bob Filner and City Councilmember Marti Emerald to support the initiative. They also first got the approval of the San Diego Unified School District board for an additional $150,000 in funding and a pledge from Filner, Emerald and School Board Trustee Richard Barrera during their campaign for the passes.

At the June 10 City Council meeting, Emerald talked about the passes' potential.

"The youth pass program is a pilot project," she said. "I think that it could prove to be very successful and model for the country."

Emerald also recognized the young people, residents and supporters from City Heights for organizing such a strong showing.

"I want to thank all the young people—specifically these young people from Mid-City CAN who have really put their heart and soul into this campaign," she said. "These are community organizers — and not in the making — they are the real deal."

Those young people were excited to reflect on what the no-cost bus passes would mean for themselves and their peers at the four area high schools at the City Council meeting.

"I think it is really important, because it is the future for other youth, not just myself, other family, other friends," said Cynthia Hernandez, 17, who goes to Patrick Henry High School. "It is important because it shows how many youth – youth working together — can make something possible."

Although not a student at an eligible high school, she sees firsthand the need.

"There are a lot of people that I know that go to Hoover or Wilson or Crawford that have to walk a lot of miles to get to school," she said. "And that affects their school because they might not get there early or might not even get to school some days."

Terry Stanley, 19, believes the campaign may be over, but its impact will continue long into the future.

"This is an opportunity for youth to get involved in our city," he said.

Stanley said that many benefits could come from the passes.

If young people "get jobs in the city, it also helps the city's revenue" and helps them "to have better education and get to school on time," he said.

Armand Binombe, 17, is a City Heights resident who goes to San Diego High School.

"I come from a low-income family and for my parents to get me the bus pass is really a challenge," said Binombe.

He said the bus pass program could change his life and make it easier to move through City Heights without worrying about safety.

For him, the passes mean "getting opportunities and being able to move around the city and go to internships and work," he said.

For the Youth Council's Hernandez, the journey that she and other Mid-City CAN members made during the campaign was remarkable.

"Mid-City CAN [Youth Council], a group 10- to 18- or 19-[year-olds] — all of those kids got together to help and create something that is going to help not just us but everybody," she said.

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