Light Rail

The Minneapolis School District made a decision to have high school students use public transportation to get to class instead of the traditional yellow school bus.

A study by University of Minnesota researchers shows that this decision is actually having a positive impact in terms of better attendance and better grades for most students.

“Researchers found that absenteeism dropped 23 percent during the 2014-2015 school year according to data collected through surveys of more than 2,000 students and 500 parents.” (Star Tribune)

A Minneapolis school teacher brought up a good point about missing the bus. If you miss the traditional school bus you really have no other way to get to school. You might end up missing half a day, or even an entire day of classes. Whereas, with transit, you can always catch the next bus.

Metro Transit and Minneapolis Public Schools have created a partnership and developed the Student Pass program. This allows students to take an unlimited amount of rides “on regular-route buses and light-rail trains between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily during the school year. ” (Star Tribune)

“Transit enables students to access additional educational opportunities and participate in additional activities,” says Yingling Fan, who is an associate professor in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the principal investigator. Students who use their transit cards are more likely going to go to a library, museum or taking an after-school course at a community college – as a result, students saw an increase in their grade point average.

It also helps with the student’s well being due to the fact that they are able to use their pass to for group activities or to do things like go out to the movies with friends.

“The study funded by Metro Transit found that 81 percent of pass users rated their experience as satisfied or very satisfied and 80 percent of parents gave the program the same marks.” the study also found that “the Minneapolis School District saved $1.5 million during the 2013-14 school year on transportation costs and cut it carbon footprint.” (Star Tribune)

Luckily, The Portland Tower is just a couple of short blocks away from Downtown East Station Platform, where the light rail connects. With the data derived from this recent study, it seems as if we are able to say with even greater assurance that the light rail and the bus system has benefited, and will continue to benefit, a wide range of different age groups.


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