This week, thousands of students across New York City are celebrating their hard-won victory to preserve free school transportation for the city’s K-12 students. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced Friday that it would continue to provide free student Metrocards, after state legislators agreed to help fill the authority’s budget shortfall. [NY Times]
Cutting the student Metrocards program would have hurt thousands of low- to middle-income families across the city, effectively burdening parents with hundreds of dollars per child each year, and leaving many students stranded without a way to get to school or attend the school of their choice.
Since December, when the MTA first proposed the cuts, youth leaders of Make the Road New York and the citywide Urban Youth Collaborative have sprung into action to get their message heard, that students have a right to free education, and free education means free transportation to school. Youth leaders met with elected officials, took trips to the state capitol, held rallies and press conferences, and organized a highly visible student walk-out. [NY Daily News, NY 1]
The MTA’s statement released on Friday recognized the value of student input in affecting their decision: "We heard loud and clear at our public hearings, in meetings with student leaders and in protests around the city, that charging students would have a life-changing impact on the ability of New Yorkers to receive a quality education."
We applaud our student leaders, who demonstrated to lawmakers and MTA officials their deep dedication to their education and their communities. Without their leadership and commitment, this victory would not have been possible.