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Students ride for free

City distributes 1,000 free bus passes to those enrolled at COC

Posted: September 8, 2009 10:30 p.m.
Updated: September 9, 2009 4:55 a.m.

A College of the Canyons student uses his free bus card to get to and from the college. The city distributed 1,000 free bus cards to those enrolled at COC.

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A partnership between the city and College of the Canyons has given about 1,000 students a free ride to school while relieving a parking shortage on the Valencia campus.

The program coincides with the launch of Transit Access Pass (TAP) program, where riders can purchase a debit card for the bus.

“The city is starting up this program and, as a way to get it publicized, we agreed to a partnership to distribute them,” said Michael Wilding, vice president of student services for the college. “It’s a win-win for both of us.”

The partnership allows the COC students to ride the bus anywhere for free during the first three weeks of the fall semester.

About 220 students used their passes on the first day of classes on Aug. 24, Wilding said.

The free rides came as the COC Valencia campus typically sees a parking crunch as students pack the parking lots during peak morning hours.

“Parking wasn’t as horrible as it typically is,” Wilding said. “We actually had spaces in our most remote lots.”

Justo Galicia, 16, has been riding the bus for free with his TAP card since the start of the semester.

While he has a ride to school in the mornings, getting home to Newhall means riding the bus.

“That’s my only way to get home,” he said as he waited at the bus stop on Rockwell Canyon Road on Tuesday.

Galicia likes riding the bus, especially because he doesn’t have to deal with finding a parking space on the Valencia campus.

Juan Juarez, 20, of Newhall has been taking the bus during the two years he’s studied at COC.

Outside of school, he ends up riding the bus three to four times a week and finds himself saving money.

“It’s a lot easier,” he said.

The college is looking into funding the program into the future, but specifics won’t be known until the city and college study the ridership numbers, Wilding said.

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