Hesperia, CA (September 17, 2014) – The Victor Valley Transit Authority Board of Directors voted Monday to fund the Victor Valley College Ram Pass pilot program, reinstating the free student bus pass until January 2015, when a sustainable VVC transportation fee is expected to take effect.

Effective immediately, any VVC student can ride all VVTA Regional, County, and Deviated Routes for free by presenting a valid VVC ID or ASB Card. VVTA’s Route 15, BV-Link, NTC Commuter, ADA Direct Access, and vanpools are excluded.

“In such an economically-challenged environment, when so many are competing for jobs, education provides a critical advantage that members of our community need to improve employment opportunities,” said VVTA Board Chair, Angela Valles. “With students commuting as many as 50-miles roundtrip to earn the educational opportunity VVC provides, it is easy to realize how critical VVTA has become in uplifting the value of the High Desert workforce.”

The Ram Pass pilot program was originally funded through a grant from the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District in July 2013. Partnering with the Victor Valley College Foundation, VVTA wrote the grant with the goal of establishing a permanently-sustainable program through a student transportation fee, which was passed by a majority student vote during a special election in early May.

By end of program in July, ASB had yet to present the initiative to the VVC Board of Trustees for approval and enactment. To avoid a lapse, VVTA extended the program until start of fall semester September 1, when the program expired.

VVC Board of Trustees and staff began working with VVTA toward an immediate resolution, resulting in a unanimous board vote September 9, approving the transportation fee. Subsequently, the VVTA Board of Directors voted just six days later on September 15, to continue the program unfunded until the student transportation fee is enacted January 2015.

“The Ram Pass program has reduced traffic congestion through Bear Valley Road, reduced stress on VVC’s overcrowded parking lots, and improved air quality through this collaborative Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District effort,” said VVTA Mobility Manager, Aaron Moore. “Though, the greatest impact we have seen emerge from this program is the life opportunities that were once more challenging to attain due to the high cost of transportation inherent with our sparsely populated region.”

VVTA provided 288,181 trips to VVC students during the extended pilot period, accounting for 12 percent of rider trips. Students from all High Desert schools account for 55% percent of VVTA rider trips.

VVTA joins a growing list of Southern California transit agencies where similar programs have been established with colleges and universities, including California State University San Bernardino, Chaffey College, Fullerton College, Saddleback College, Cal Baptist University, and UC Riverside.

About Victor Valley Transit Authority: The Victor Valley Transit Authority (VVTA) is a public transit agency, providing fixed route bus service to the cities of Adelanto, Apple Valley, Hesperia, Victorville and portions of San Bernardino County, including Lucerne Valley, Phelan, Wrightwood, Pinon Hills, Oro Grande, and Helendale. VVTA offers weekday bus service that stretches from Barstow to Victorville and down into San Bernardino Valley., VVTA also provides commuter service to the United States Army’s National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin. In addition to serving the transportation needs of High Desert commuters through its various bus services, VVTA also offers a vanpool program, and complementary paratransit service for the disabled and frail elderly who are unable to use conventional VVTA transit services. VVTA’s core service area spans approximately 425 square miles. Additional information and service alerts may be found at VVTA.org, Facebook.com/OfficialVVTA, Twitter.com/VVTransit.

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