Minneapolis students, parents sound off on Go-To Pass program - KMSP-TV

Minneapolis students, parents sound off on Go-To Pass program

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

Minneapolis parents are voicing new concerns over the public high schools' switch from yellow school buses to Metro Transit, especially because the Go-To Pass program will expand to two more schools this fall.

Parents who oppose the program got vocal just last month after several teens were assaulted near public bus stops, but there are others who

Nonetheless, there are those who really like the idea of the program.

"I've pretty much been around this whole town on the bus, not having to depend on my mom to pick me up and drop me off," said Washburn High School senior Candice Silvan.

Silvan told FOX 9 News she gladly picks riding Metro Transit over the traditional yellow buses.

"Freshman and sophomore year, I had a bus that dropped me off like 40 blocks from my house," she recalled. "So, I had to walk almost like a mile and a half and it's not the best neighborhood."

Independence is another reason behind Silvan's preference.

"It's preparing me for college next year because next year I'll be off on my own," she smiled.

The Minneapolis Public School District cut yellow buses from the budget and replaced them with the Go-To Pass program at most high schools. The program allows students to ride public transportation from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the week -- for free.

"Allowing your young person to ride the public transportation is also a way for them to mature and to be exposed to the public," said Rhea Jackson, a parent. "I think it's wonderful! There are other cities that have been far beyond us."

The only high schools yet to phase into the Go-To Pass program are South and Southwest. Both are slated to begin on Metro Transit this fall -- but the expansion is raising concerns after two assaults and 12 district-cited incidents involving students at Metro Transit stops.

"Does someone need to die before something gets done? My son was threatened with a gun!" Tracy Knightingale told FOX 9 after her son was assaulted near Patrick Henry High School.

Parents aren't only concerned about fights or thefts that could happen at bus stops. The type of assault worrying some is one that often goes unreported -- sexual assault. Some worry that predators will be more inclined to target girls hopping Metro Transit than those boarding yellow busses.

"Young teenage girls make up 51 percent of sexual assaults and only 31 percent actually will report it just because of the social stigma, embarrassment," said Vicky Lynes, a concerned mother.

Lynes cited statistics reported on teenhelp.com, and said she worries that men on the prowl may start cruising bus stops to find vulnerable young girls.

"Now they're going to know, 'Well school's out. We can go to this bus stop because that's where these girls are going to be,'" she said.

Minneapolis Public Schools was unavailable for comment on camera.

At last check, there have been more than one million student rides on Metro Transit and 12 incidents district leaders consider serious. That's a number some believe is far too many for the program's first year.

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