Shelby County Schools strives to provide equitable opportunities for all students. During a recent community forum, students expressed the need for more access to public transit. They believe this access will help address challenges such as poverty, absenteeism, and academic performance. After hearing these sentiments, our School Board took action by investing in an initiative that aims to improve transportation access for high schoolers.
Thanks to our Board, SCS is proud to announce a partnership with Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) to provide free bus passes to high school students during the 2019-20 school year based on eligibility and availability.
How many students will receive passes? SCS has purchased 3,000 passes for this year. The goal is to study the program and grow it next year.
Who is eligible? All SCS students in grades 9-12 are eligible to apply for passes which will be assigned based on availability. *This program does not apply to alternative schools as the contract from the program will continue for those students.
Do parents really get a FREE pass? Yes! For every student who receives a pass, their listed guardians are also eligible for a free pass.
How were the passes distributed? Passes were distributed to 27 SCS high schools based on student population and demographics. Alternative schools are not governed under this program.
When can my student use their pass? Passes will be active for 12 months and can be used on any standard MATA route during any period that MATA is running.
How does my student sign-up? There will be a sign up link posted on August 15th. That link will be communicated to parents through email, text, and social media. Announcements on sign-up will also be made at each school.
How does a parent/guardian sign-up? After all student passes are assigned, a sign-up link will be sent to the parents of those students. Only the listed guardians of an approved student are eligible.
Where do we pick up our passes? Student passes will be printed and distributed at the student’s school on a designated day. The guardian passes will be distributed at the SCS Central Office (specific location TBD) by district staff and volunteers. Distribution will occur on Saturdays and a schedule of the hours will be released after registration. If a parent has transportation issues, there will be a chance to request transportation during the registration process.
What are the rules while riding the bus? All SCS policies and regulations are applicable at transit stops and while riding the bus. MATA will report violations to SCS and offending students can receive discipline from the school as well as a revocation of their pass. If any student or guardian has their pass revoked, all related passes will be revoked.
What happens if my child leaves SCS? If a child disenrolls from SCS for any reason, all related passes will be disabled.
What if there is not bus route to my child’s school in the morning? This initiative was designed to support a number of activates such as vocational and extra-curricular opportunities as well as being a back-up to school transportation. While some schools will have limited service, the goal is to use this year to learn how to best increase service in future years.
Who do I go to if there are issues on the bus? If there is an issue with bus service, MATA is the primary contact. However, SCS will be taking feedback on customer experience as an active partner in this initiative.
SCS is excited about a chance to respond to student feedback and to partner with another government agency to provide opportunity and access. We want to get it right the first time which is why we are studying it this year. We understand the passes are limited and there are some challenges with coverage but we don’t want that to be an impediment to moving on addressing student concerns and empowering our students and parents where we can. We looked forward to making this program a success for our students!