Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and welcomed 20 second-graders from on Wednesday to mark the official start of a program that allows students, faculty and chaperones to travel free of cost on Metro buses and rail to 19 approved destinations on field trips.
The so-called Metro Student Field Trip Program was championed by Villaraigosa last year to ensure that K-12 students from public as well as private schools across L.A. County continue to visit cultural centers and museums despite a shortfall in funding for school field trips.
The free rides, which are also aimed at encouraging children to ride trains from an early age, are available Monday through Friday. However, the trips can only be made during non-rush hours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.—and only to destinations ranging from the California Science Center and the National History Museum to the Audubon Center and the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach.
Field trips for students are limited to groups of 40 people, including chaperones. There must be one adult for every 10 students in the group—and one field trip per student per year. Field trip requests must be made online at least three weeks in advance—after completing an online safety curriculum.
Wednesday morning’s free ride for Eagle Rock Elementary students took them to Chinatown, where Villaraigosa gave a news conference at the Metro Gold Line Station on Spring Street. Huizar and Metro CEO Art Leahy also spoke at the media-studded event.
“Would you rather come to Chinatown in a train or a car?” Huizar asked a group of students shortly after they arrived in the historic neighborhood, a short walk from the Council member’s office in City Hall.
“The train!” responded the students in unison—although, added one of them cheerfully: “It took a long time to get here.”
The ERE students, accompanied by Principal José Posada, second-grade teacher Allison Caesar and several parents, began their journey by boarding a Metro bus, which took them from Eagle Rock City Hall to the Metro Gold Line Station on North Avenue 57 in Highland Park. From Union Station, where they were given a short tour, the students boarded a Gold Line train to historic Chinatown.
After about an hour of sightseeing in Chinatown in occasionally rainy and cold weather, they students headed back to school in a Metro bus.