DENVER -- Thousands of school students rely on public transportation in the city to get to and from school every day.
The cost for discount student monthly bus passes through RTD can run as high as $50, totaling $600 each year for transportation.
Some students, along with Together Colorado, are asking the city of Denver and RTD to help find a way to provide more affordable or free passes for school students.
“I usually have to take the bus to get to King Soopers and ask for the reduced bus pass which is $50,” said Haydn Roberts, who rides the bus to and from high school every day. “If I was to use the pass for all 12 months, it costs a total of $600. If I was to take the bus only from school to home, it cost a total of $468. I have to ride the bus at least 102 times to break even.”
Other students who don’t need to ride the bus tell Denver7 they many times pitch in loose change so their friends can get to and from class.
“Me and my friends, whatever spare change we might carry in our bag, we give it to them because that’s their only way to get home and their families can’t afford a bus pass for them or can’t afford to give them money,” said Paty Munos, who is a DPS high school student.
“Not a lot of families can afford a monthly bus pass and it’s students who have to choose ‘Am I going to buy breakfast or am I going to walk to school because I can’t afford the bus?" said Rogelio Munoz Vargas, who’s also a DPS high school student.
A DPS spokesperson said the district has $800,000 budgeted to purchase RTD passes and give them to qualifying students.
District officials also said those students must live further than 3.5 miles away from school and must be attending their home boundary school, as well as meet low-income requirements.
A recently passed mill levy in Denver will add $400,000 to that transportation budget for the 2017-2018 school year, also adding more bus passes along with it.
But, some students say it’s just simply not enough to meet the current need.
Together Colorado is petitioning the city and RTD to work out an agreement on a pilot program for next year that would provide 10,000 of the approximately 25,000 high school students in Denver Public Schools with bus passes.
RTD and the city of Denver both confirm with Denver7 there are internal talks about the issue, but no decision has been made and no timeline for any action has been determined.