How Inadequate Transit Harms College Students

A lack of access to affordable and reliable transit is being cited as a major reason why many college students don't finish school.

2 minute read

December 15, 2021, 12:00 PM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


"At a time when colleges are increasingly focused on how to get and keep students enrolled and on a path to a degree, some of the most surprising challenges are not academic but logistical," writes Charlotte West. One of these challenges: affordable, reliable transportation.

With the majority of U.S. college students commuting to class, transportation can make a crucial difference for millions who cannot access or afford transit services. One study found that "Hispanic students were 19 percent more likely to report transportation problems as creating a barrier to college completion than non-Hispanics." Lack of access to transportation can lead students to miss classes and fall behind, while expensive car repairs and transportation costs can put students in even deeper debt.

In response, some colleges and cities have launched programs that provide low-cost or free transit passes and bring education closer to students with satellite campuses located near transit, sometimes funded with COVID-19 relief funds. 

Rural students face their own set of challenges as they're often reliant on personal transportation in regions with sparse public transportation services. In these cases, colleges can help students by providing their own shuttle services or grants to help students pay for car repairs. According to research cited in the article, supporting effective and affordable transportation for students can have a positive impact on students' chances to stay enrolled and graduate, while advocates of fare-free transit argue that eliminating fares would increase equity and bring more people closer to economic opportunities and urban amenities.

Friday, December 10, 2021 in The Washington Post

Single-family homes in a suburban neighborhood in Florida.

New Florida Law Curbs HOA Power

The legislation seeks to cut down on ‘absurd’ citations for low-level violations.

June 16, 2024 - The Guardian

Three colorful, large beachfront homes, one khaki, one blue, and one yellow, with a small dune in front and flat sand in foreground.

Florida Homeowners 'Nope Out' of Beach Restoration Over Public Access

The U.S. Corps of Engineers and Redington Shores, Florida are at a standstill: The Corps won’t spend public money to restore private beaches, and homeowners are refusing to grant public access to the beaches behind their home in return for federal assistance.

June 7, 2024 - Grist

Multistory apartment building under construction.

New Tennessee Law Allows No-Cost Incentives for Affordable Housing

Local governments in the Volunteer State can now offer developers incentives like increased density, lower parking requirements, and priority permitting for affordable housing projects.

June 10, 2024 - Nooga Today

Green meadow with water running through and trees on either side in Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite Meadow Undergoing Major Restoration

Rangeland recently acquired from private owners is being restored to a more natural state thanks to a purchase by the Trust for Public Land.

7 seconds ago - San Francisco Chronicle

Large black SYV driving down city street with blurred background.

GAO to Investigate How Vehicle Design Impacts Safety

A lax set of rules around vehicle size, height, and other factors is partly responsible for the alarming rise in pedestrian deaths in the United States.

1 hour ago - Streetsblog USA

Worker in yellow safety suit holding up orange SLOW sign on road

New Orleans Faces $1 Billion Shortfall for FEMA-Funded Roadwork

After years of delays, cost overruns, and deadline extensions on a FEMA-funded street repair program, New Orleans officials face a massive funding shortfall and accusations of mismanagement.

2 hours ago - NOLA.com

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.