Metro Unveils Student Field Trip Plan, Transit People Weighs In

Apparently little sister didn't think much of big brother's photo op.  Photo: Tim Adams/Transit People
Apparently little sister didn't think much of big brother's photo op. Photo: Tim Adams/Transit People

At tomorrow’s meeting of the Metro Board’s Executive Management and Audit Committee, the Board Members will take their first look at the agency’s “free transit to field trips” program first proposed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and approved by the Board last year. While Metro still hasn’t reached out to local experts on working with schools to get classes to educational destinations via transit, I did reach out to Transit People to help review the program.

Tim Adams gives an overview

…it looks like they’re trying to implement a good program.  I think they’re obviously stalling for time as they try to craft a program structure, and I can hardly blame them for that.  I gather from one of your earlier e-mails that this all caught them unawares, that the program was the mayor’s idea.

The red flag is the “fare media,” referred to on the bottom of page 2 and at other points in the document.  I think this warrants hollering and jumping up and down about, if only to spare hundreds of overworked teachers the misery of schlepping to and from One Gateway to pick up stickers that simply aren’t needed, now that the motion has been passed.

When Adams refers to the staff recommendation to start slow this Spring and grow the program for the next school year.

An initial small-scale demonstration program will be offered in March that limits participation and concentrates on utilizing rail and major bus lines to reach significant cultural and historical destinations. The demonstration program will be used to gauge demand and design an appropriate Field Trip program that can be efficiently managed. The target date for launching the more comprehensive program is August, 201 1

Where Adams has his chief problem with the proposal is a requirement that teachers make a trip to Metro Headquarters to pick up the tickets for the class.  Isn’t there an easier way to give out tickets?  Adams writes…

The potential for fraud is very low.  How many riders show up to take a bus or train with 20+ students in tow?  Teachers completing Metro qualification could be directed to a private web link that would let them print out trip authorizations on their own.  Or, the web link might permit them to print out ID cards qualifying them to lead trips of this type — complete with teacher-provided .jpegs.  Or, Metro could postal mail the ID cards.

Some other considerations via Transit People:

  • We pushed our limit to 24 kids for bus trips, to accommodate larger class sizes in K – 3.  I can’t argue with limiting the number to 20, but that’s going to severely limit the number of classes that can book a trip on a public bus.
  • Our groups generally leave school at 8:30 and are on the first bus or train between 8:45 and 9:00.  A 10:00 a.m. start is quite late.  That’s going to make it a lot harder for many participants to travel to and from a destination in school hours.
  • “One teacher/chaperone” per five students is a bit high.
  • Many of the destinations listed in Attachment B aren’t educational destinations.  I suspect this was an oversight; I doubt anyone thinks that teachers will book trips to, say, Buster’s Coffee House, by the Mission station.

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