New proposal could give high school students free bus passes

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — High school students across Oahu could be getting free bus passes. It’s a new pilot project being proposed at the Honolulu City Council.

Officials say the idea is to help students with transportation to internships, college courses and other after school extra-curricular activities.

“A lot of the kids that we have in our academy, they’ve said that they would love to do internships. It’s just, you know, is mom and dad able to take them there. Are they able to drive? Do they have money for parking?,” said Shayne Greenland, Campbell High School Vice Principal.

To solve the problem, Greenland and other school administrators turned to the city council.

“Providing free bus passes would enable high school students to be able to take advantage of these excellent off campus opportunities,” said City Council Member Ron Menor.

Menor created the bill for the pilot project. He says this has already been implemented in other school districts in the U.S., and he’d like to see it work here.

“It’s no question that these off campus internship opportunities for our high school students can significantly enhance the quality of their education, and I think the pilot program that I am proposing could move us in that direction,” said Menor.

They’ve already had meetings on how this pilot program would work, and especially how they would ensure that students are using the bus passes for the right reasons.

“There’s a new chip tracking device that are on these cards, so they can actually pinpoint where a kid gets on, where he gets off… where they’re going to go to as far as their stops,” said Greenland.

Greenland said they’re also considering setting a time limit for the cards to be used, such as from 6 a.m. To 4 or 5 p.m. in the afternoon. He said they would have the power to turn off the card if it’s being abused.

Greenland said if the pilot program goes through, he hopes it can be used to give kids a head start in college or their careers.

“It gives (them) real life learning, where a kid can get off campus – education doesn’t have to take place within the four walls of a school – and get them out where they start networking with the individuals that they may go work for,” said Greenland.

How the system works will still need to be worked out with the City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Transportation Services.

The first hearing for the new bill will be at the city council’s budget committee next week Wednesday, Oct. 23.

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