Forget Parking, Save Money By Riding Foothill

Mt. SAC is offering you a ticket to ride and you should care


Graphic credit: Joshua Sanchez/SAC.Media.

If you attend Mt. SAC during a main semester, you’ve got a ticket to ride. It comes on the back of your student ID for the low cost of $9, and those that receive FAFSA do not even have to pay for this luxury. Your ticket to ride is known as the class pass, and it can be picked up at the office to the right of SAC Book Rac’s entrance when you first receive your Mt. SAC ID.

Already have your ID? Go back and get a class pass attached to it, because the pass has automatically been paid for if you’ve paid for classes.

The price tag is automatically applied as “Transportation Fee Full Time” when you register for classes at Mt. SAC during the spring and fall semesters. For $9, this piece of plastic and its benefits will last until the next main semester. This also grants you access to a majority of the San Gabriel Valley without putting a dent in your wallet.

Mt. SAC gives you five options as the launchpad for your travels.

Three lines that take you to Cal Poly Pomona or the El Monte Station:

The only line that will take you deep into Pomona heading towards Montclair or the West Covina Mall:

Or the rarest line which will take you to Cal Poly Pomona or the Puente Hills Mall:

With plans for a future transit center, Mt. SAC will likely service more lines or offer more frequency to the lines it currently serves. I’m looking at you, 289.

But I’m sure you still have your doubts on why you should make the switch to Foothill Transit for your transportation needs. Let’s break it down into three categories: cost, convenience and conservation.


As we’ve already addressed, the college makes $9 in transportation fees for every student that attends a main semester. Estimating that the college has about 50,000 students register for a spring or fall semester, the college makes $450,000.

You are not only losing $9 of your own money, but you are losing out on more potential free rides from a larger pool of money that could have paid for your transportation.

You’re also losing money on gas. If we average your commute at 25 miles to the gallon at $3.50 a gallon, we can conservatively calculate how much you are paying in gas. At 5 miles from campus in a city like Covina, you will pay about 70 cents a trip for a total of $1.40 a day. At 15 miles from campus, you will pay $2.10 a trip for about $4.20 a day. Those calculations are extremely conservative and also presume you go directly to school and back without extra trips or stops, so your savings will be even larger than provided here.

The price to use the bus one way is $1.50 cash or $1.25 with the TAP card, meaning that a round trip bus ride will cost the college $2.50, which saves the college 50 cents a ride. This is completely free to you, meaning the $1.40 to $4.20 is pure savings – and the farther you live, the more you save.

Budgeting two full semesters at 125 days of instruction and a full year of classes at Mt. SAC as 170 days, the person who lives 5 miles from campus will save $175 to $238, and the person who lives 15 miles from campus will save $525 to $714.

That $705.50 presumes you only bus to Mt. SAC and back while only using one bus line. The savings grow even more if you go to events or if you use more than one bus line.

Personal Cost

I live about 9 miles from Mt. SAC using Amar Road and 11 miles using Valley Boulevard and have taken the bus almost every single day of school. Since I have used the bus for about 240 days of schooling, I would have had to pay $600 to Foothill Transit conservatively. This means the college has paid over $600 on my behalf.

That number does not count all of the events I have bused to and all of the days I have taken more than one line to a location and back.

In gas, this would total to $1.26 by Amar and $1.54 by Valley, making Foothill’s TAP card rate cheaper by a cent using Amar and cheaper by 29 cents for Valley. Adding in the round trips of $2.52 and $3.08, I get a total savings of $604.80 for Amar and $739.20 for Valley.

Using Amar, $4.80 was saved by taking the bus. Using Valley, a whopping $139.20 was saved by using Foothill.

Those are the savings had I paid for the bus, but holistically I’ve saved the entire $604.80 to $739.20 amount. For me, it was entirely saved because I’ve only had to pay a whopping $36 to Foothill Transit.

Of the $36, I’ve only paid $9 out of my own pocket in almost two years, as FAFSA has covered last fall and this spring alongside the upcoming fall semester. I get “free” rides each intersession from the subsidized rate each main semester and from the aid I receive.

So if you’re running the numbers, I’ve paid about 4 cents on every ride I’ve taken on Foothill Transit, and at the end of the year I’ll have had well over 307 rides to the $36 put in on my behalf.

That’s 11 to 12 cents a ride. Better than a senior citizen’s rate.

Again, that is an incredibly conservative estimate that does not account for riding the bus to events or using multiple lines, which are other ways I have saved several hundreds on gas.


This point might amuse you.

What’s convenient about waiting at a bus stop? Where’s the convenience in potentially lengthening my trip time?

Oh my sweet summer child, you may like to throw away $175 to $714 thinking it is more convenient to drive to your destination, but you are more inconvenienced by operating your car.

I’ve heard stories of students spending over a half hour to park. If I’m running late to class, I can book it right after the traffic light – no need to wait for another monkey in a car to get out of my way.

There have been increased instances of parking lot disputes and hit and runs, especially after the recent restriping of Lot B. Lot A is next.

Your parking problems persist and it is your fault because Foothill makes your parking problems disappear. Waiting for the bus makes your life more scheduled and is actually a bigger convenience than inconvenience. With the extra time I can study, do homework, relax, sleep or do whatever I want to while riding the bus.

Instead of bending to get in or out of a cramped small car, you are able to stand on this moving vehicle. “Bus surfing,” which a good deal of drivers are wholeheartedly against, is some of the most fun you can have when you don’t want to sit next to someone.

Similarly, it is very convenient to not add wear and tear to your vehicle. If the bus goes out – you don’t have to pay for it. If you were driving – you wouldn’t be able to wait for the next scheduled car to take to your destination – you would be completely stuck.

The best benefit of Foothill convenience is found in the ability to use their rapid transport, the Silver Streak. This bus takes you to Los Angeles on a private bus-only freeway lane for $2.50, which is a cheaper rate than $5.00 of the commuter expresses.

In Los Angeles, there are no good places to park, so the bus can conveniently drop you off next to Union Station or the Los Angeles Convention Center. Or if the eastbound 480 to Montclair is just too slow, the Silver Streak will take you to Montclair quickly and save you time.

With other factors considered, it is not only cheaper to ride Foothill – it is more convenient.


Foothill Transit is moving towards an all electric fleet, and since you mostly likely cannot afford a Tesla, this is the best option for environmentally friendly travel.

Ride sharing and carpooling cuts down on polluting, but those options involving getting into the personal space of a stranger or coworker.

With the bus, you can be environmentally friendly and avoid social interactions knowing you are safer with a trained professional behind the wheel. That makes Foothill the safer option not only for you, but for the environment.

While those reasons are great, the best reason is to utilize what is right in front of you. There is no additional cost to get this pass added to your ID, so even if you do not use the pass, you are throwing away money to not at least have the opportunity to use it.

Mt. SAC is one of five schools locally to offer the Class Pass. Joining Mt. SAC are class passes at the University Of La Verne, Citrus College, the Claremont Colleges and Azusa Pacific University. Two other local schools participate in the Universal College Student Transit Pass Pilot Program and have a U-Pass: Pasadena City College and Rio Hondo Community College. Cal Poly Pomona is the last local college that currently has a listed deal with Foothill Transit as reduced fare for day passes and special Photo ID TAP cards are offered.

We have it great here – the cost of fare is not reduced and we can ride any Foothill line we want for no added cost. The class pass is a must for any “broke college student” and it can help anyone avoid walking a block. With such an opportunity to save money, forget parking, and relax on your morning commute. You’d be a fool to not ride Foothill Transit.