Student-driven Public Advocacy Improves RI School Transportation Equity

Learning401 shoutout to our allies at the Providence Student Union - who share our commitment to giving voice to the public that is public school, in particular those persons who have the biggest stake in Rhode Island's future: our youth.

More than making more Providence students eligible for free public transportation, PSU is empowering young voices to organize in being the change they want to see, and in ways that address serious challenges in absenteeism and student engagement.

For their efforts to build awareness, listen, give voice, and collaborate with fellow change makers in education, we salute you.

Below is an announcement from Zack Mezera, PSU Executive Director:


Wow, this is a big one.

As you know, PSU's student leaders have been leading a creative and diligent public advocacy effort to improve school transportation equity in our district.

Last night, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras announced that the city has budgeted to expand bus passes to high school students living further than 2.5 miles from school next year, with a commitment to reduce the eligibility radius to 2 miles the year after.

When the two-year transition is complete, over 1800 additional Providence students will be eligible for free public transportation to and from school.

Now that's something to celebrate!

This victory was possible because of support from the Providence School Board, Superintendent Lusi and the Providence Public School Department, the Mayor's office, and numerous community allies, including Serve Rhode Island, Rhode Island Kids Count, and many more. Thank you.

We're especially proud of students' work on this campaign: Roselin, Diane, Marcus, Natalia, Cauldierre, Sissy, Tim, and dozens more youth across many schools have worked tirelessly and demonstrated the ability of Providence Student Union's creative youth advocacy to make real change. In recognition of students' key role, Mayor Taveras devoted time during his final budget address to thank PSU:

"The bus pass issue is not a new one. The radius for eligibility has been three miles for decades. Like so many other issues we have faced, we are taking action to address a challenge that existed long before we took office.

I want to thank the Providence Student Union for elevating this important issue. Your commitment to equity and your courage to speak up is inspiring - thank you for your leadership."

As always, thank you for all of your support. This campaign to achieve transportation equity by Providence high school students truly was a community effort. We look forward to continuing to work for a fair say for youth in our education system.


Zack Mezera

Executive Director