Rainier Beach High School Bus Pass Initiative


By Darryl Eastin

Students at Rainier Beach High School with assistance from school staff, parents and transit advocates, staged a town hall event on October 22, 2015 at the Rainer Beach High School Performing Arts Center. It was the culmination of their months-long effort to push for free bus passes for students who live within two miles of school, but who can’t afford bus fare. These passes would be in addition to free bus passes provided by Seattle Public Schools to students who live two miles or more from their school.

In the summer of 2015, as part of a six-week Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools Program, Rainier Beach students, ages 5 to 18, organized a march from Seattle Public Schools Headquarters in Sodo to Seattle City Hall drawing public attention to students’ need for better public transportation access to school in the Rainier Beach community. At the town hall event, students outlined their argument that students across the school district need bus passes to help their attendance and improve their grades. Transportation they argued, is a key part of school success.  Students, parents and teachers shared stories about students’ difficulties in getting to school. Students also described successful school transit programs in other parts of the country. The event included performances and boards describing the Rainier Beach community from a student’s perspective.

As of this writing, the Seattle City Council approved funding for free bus passes to all students qualifying for free or reduced lunch who live more than one mile away from school and the School Board voted to accept the grant from the City.  

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Image: Students stood outside Rainier Beach High School after a community town hall about transportation to let school and city officials know that fellow low-income students, who live close to the school, need bus passes to get them to class quickly and safely. Photo by Alex Garland, Real Change.

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