By Councilmember Marsha McLean A new academic year is upon us and soon parents will be packing their children’s lunches and sending them off to school. Not all students live within walking distance of their schools, and it may not always be convenient for a parent to drop off their child. For this reason, Santa Clarita Transit strives to make public transportation as accessible as possible for students throughout the City. For those of you who plan on taking advantage of our local transit service, I highly encourage use of a TAP card, a durable plastic card with a smart chip designed to make your transit experience simple and secure from Santa Clarita and beyond. Similar to a gift card or debit card, you can load your TAP card electronically with local and regional transit passes as well as stored value (cash amount). To use the card, simply “tap” it on the TAP target of the bus fare box/validator or station turnstile/validator. The validator will beep and display a confirmation that your card is valid and deduct the correct fare. The primary reason why I recommend the TAP card for students is its ease of use compared to handling cash fare each day – no more fumbling for change in the backpack as a line of boarding passengers builds behind. It’s also very convenient for parents, with sales outlets throughout Santa Clarita. Locations include: Santa Clarita City Hall, the Transit Maintenance Facility, Newhall and Canyon Country community centers, all Santa Clarita Public Library branches, select Ralphs locations and more. For a complete listing of sales locations throughout Santa Clarita, please visit SantaClaritaTransit.com. TAP cards can then be easily reloaded in person at any of our sales outlets, online at taptogo.net, or over the phone by calling 866-TAPTOGO. Parents can choose to load monthly passes on their student’s card for unlimited local transit rides, or if their child will only be riding occasionally it may be more cost effective to load stored value. TAP conveniently offers autoload and balance protection for cards that are registered online. This means parents can have funds automatically loaded onto the card if they so choose, AND cards are protected against loss or theft. Finally, a TAP card can also be used to connect to 24 municipal transit systems in Los Angeles County. Needless to say, the TAP card is a great tool that is convenient for both the parent and student. Just a few days ago, Santa Clarita Transit staff was out visiting local junior high schools on registration days offering helpful hints to new students and parents alike, as well as selling TAP cards to future transit riders. We hope more of our students will take advantage of this great program. Santa Clarita Transit local fare for one trip is $1.00 which translates to $2.00 per school day if you ride the bus to and from school, while a monthly pass is just $34.00. A monthly pass can save you more money in the long run. Full information on local routes can be found at SantaClaritaTransit.com under the Routes and Schedules tab. To receive Santa Clarita Transit updates follow @SCTBus on Twitter. To learn more about TAP, please visit taptogo.net. Marsha McLean is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.