Metro launched a new program Monday aimed at helping youths in the LA foster system transition into independent living. The program, dubbed Youth on the Move, provides free transit passes for young adults between the ages of 18 and 21, who are taking part in Los Angeles County Youth Self-Sufficiency Program.
About 1,800 young people are emancipated each year from foster care, said L.A. County Supervisor Michael Antonovich on Monday at a press conference announcing the program. As many as 2,000 people may be eligible to receive these EZ transit passes, according to Metro, which will be valid on all Metro bus and rail lines in addition to other public transportation options.
Participants in the program will receive special TAP cards with their photos on them, and their trip data will be collected and used to help determine the success of the program.
“This new countywide transit pass program — aimed specifically at foster youths transitioning to adulthood — is designed to be a tool to help them continue their education, search for work and be able to accept work in any part of our county," said L.A. County Supervisor Michael Antonovich in a statement.
Having a vehicles costs about $11,000 a year, Antonovich said, so by creating free transportation options Metro is able to facilitate the youths' ability to find a new place to live and secure a job.
Miani Giron, one of the program's participants, said at the event on Monday that it will help her lead a more independent lifestyle.
"I can get to work and it helps me get to school and it helps me get to my weekly meetings for my scholarship program I'm a part of," she said.
Tommy Diaz, another program member, used to ride his bike to school everyday before he got the transit pass. He said the free rides makes him "more motivated" to continue attending college and working.
"I wont give up," Diaz said at the presser. "I won't let you guys down. I want to be somebody."
All of the people participating in the program are no longer living with a foster family or are in the process of moving out of a group home. They are either working, going to school or doing both.
This program has been approved for a one-year test run. It will be the first program in the nation of its kind.