A pilot program to streamline and reduce the cost and hassle of purchasing college student discount transit passes has been launched by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and California State University, Northridge (CSUN).

The Universal College Student Fare Program (U-Pass) makes it easier for students to receive discounts without a lengthy application process and waiting period.

“CSUN added U-Pass to its registration web portal so students can purchase discounted transit as they register for classes,” said Metro Chief Communications Officer Pauletta Tonilas. “This bypasses some of the processes that turned out to be barriers to students receiving discounts in a timely manner.”

A regular Metro monthly pass costs $100 compared to $43 for a monthly College/Vocational TAP pass. With U-Pass, students purchase transit directly from their university and, in some cases, the college subsidizes the fare.

For example, CSUN charges students $95 for 21 weeks of transit, a 64 percent discount from the College/Vocational student fare. U-Pass participants receive a “smart sticker” with an embedded TAP computer chip that is affixed to a student identification card. The U-Pass can be re-loaded during the registration process every semester the student is taking classes.

U-Pass is scheduled to be rolled out at five other colleges this fall: Pasadena City College and Rio Hondo College on August 22, Los Angeles Trade Technical College on Aug. 29 and American Career College and West Coast University on October 15.

Schools eligible to participate in the program include the Los Angeles Community College District, California State Universities, University of California, private universities and vocational colleges.

 There are 1.4 million public college students in L.A. County and currently only 14,000 students (1 percent) participate in reduced fare programs. Metro is planning to expand the U-Pass program after the fall semester.

For more information on the program, visit metro.net/riding/colleges.