Transportation issues are preventing some people from getting a college education. The Congressional Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance identified the lack of efficient transportation as one of the barriers to postsecondary education1 - it limits one's choice of schools, prevent students from arriving to class on time and causes such hassles as difficulty visiting financial aid offices and libraries during business hours.
Fortunately, many schools have recognized the problem and are taking steps to remedy it. If your school is experiencing a decline in enrollments, starts or retention due to transportation struggles, consider offering students any of these affordable alternatives to traditional car ownership.
Bus, Train and Subway Passes
Career colleges can partner with local transportation authorities to provide discounted or free public transportation passes. Select schools in Los Angeles County offer a College/Vocational TAP Card, which enables students to ride the Metro bus and rail system for $43 a month.2 And New York City Student MetroCards enable eligible students to ride the bus or subway for half-fare or free (depending on the type of card) for up to three trips per day when attending school-related activities between 5:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.3
Carpooling and Vanpooling
Carpooling networks are another popular solution to student transportation issues. Career colleges may wish to partner with a vanpooling service such as vRide, in which groups of 6 to 15 people commute together by van on a regular basis.4 Sacramento City College supports a similar program, in which students fill out an application to find potential carpool partners.5
Career colleges can also look into Zimride, the largest rideshare program in the United States. Zimride currently operates on 125 university campuses and could easily work on a career college campus where you have students commuting in from similar towns with similar schedules.6
Zimride's partner Zipcar provides another student transportation solution known as carsharing.7 Carsharing enables drivers to rent cars for short intervals, usually by the hour or by the day. Students can use a carsharing service like Zipcar to get to and from campus.
Students register for membership and pay fees that cover the price of insurance, fuel, parking and maintenance. The student simply goes to where the car is parked - usually a neighborhood lot - unlock it by tapping a special "Zipcard' to the windshield and then drive off for their commute. Once the reserved session has expired, the driver returns the car to the same lot he or she picked it up from in time to make it available for the next user.
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