City, TriMet, PPS near agreement to continue YouthPass (updated)

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Portland Public Schools high schoolers and alternative schoolers won’t be left in the cold this winter after all.

According to a news release this afternoon from Mayor Sam Adams’ office, PPS, TriMet and the City of Portland have reached a basic agreement that’ll keep YouthPass, TriMet’s formerly-state-funded program to give transit passes to every high schooler in the district, through the end of the school year.

"We have an agreement in principle between the PPS and TriMet to continue the passes to June 30, 2012," wrote Todd Diskin, youth strategies coordinator for Adams’ office, in an email. "Everyone has demonstrated commitment to this and we will be amending the [intergovernmental agreement] between PPS, TriMet and the City in the next week or so. The group is also committed towards identifying a long term solution to ensure YouthPass continues beyond the 2011/12 school year. [emphasis added -MA]

Sadly, we were months ahead of every other media outlet in reporting that this program was about to be cut, and the legislature had essentially let state funding die before mainstream news outlets picked it up. If YouthPass can continue beyond this month after all, that’ll be very big news for the 12,000 or so Portland teens who receive the benefit.

Update: Here’s the city press release’s explanation of the funding for the rest of this year:

"The funding gap will be closed through a $375,000 YouthPass discount from TriMet, consistent with TriMet’s discount given to prepaid passholders, and retroactively applied to the passes provided to students since September 2011. PPS will contribute an additional $75,000 and the City of Portland will contribute an additional $225,000.

(Photo by Michael Schoenholtz.)

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