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LA Metro's new discounted student transit passes available at 6 colleges this fall

FILE: Students at Cal State Northridge.
FILE: Students at Cal State Northridge.
Peter & Joyce Grace/Flickr

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Los Angeles county's transit agency is offering an easier way for college students to get a discounted Metro pass this fall.

Starting Monday, a new so-called  "U-pass" will be available at California State University, Northridge. The pass will also be offered at five other area colleges in coming weeks: Pasadena City College and Rio Hondo College on August 22, Los Angeles Trade Technical College on Aug. 29 and American Career College and West Coast University on October 15.

The new program was approved by the Metro board in May and makes it easier for a wider group of students to buy a transit pass at a discounted rate directly from a school.

Previously, student passes had to be ordered through the mail from Metro in a cumbersome process which could take upwards of two months and only full-time students qualified for the discount. Metro found only about 1 percent of such students in the county were taking advantage of the passes.

Under the new program, students, including part-time undergraduate or graduate students taking eight or six units respectively, can order the pass when they register for classes or buy them from their college's ticket office. Students will receive a sticker to affix to their student ID's which works as a form of payment like a TAP card.

The maximum cost for the pass is $43 per month, though many colleges are subsidizing that cost.

At Cal State Northridge the pass is selling for $96 for the 21-week semester, a savings of 64 percent over the regular fare.

All colleges and universities in the county are eligible to take part in the U-pass program, though not all have signed on. Some, such as UCLA, already offer their own subsidized Metro passes. UCLA subsidizes student passes by half; USC by a third.

Metro officials hope to expand the U-pass program to even more schools this spring.