MTA offers students monetary incentive

The Baltimore Sun

Maryland Transit Administration officials are offering discount cards for area businesses to students who pledge good behavior on city buses, an incentive that transit administrators hope will help curb disrespectful and violent behavior.

The discount card will offer 10 percent to 20 percent off purchases at 12 city establishments, including Dunkin' Donuts, Cold Stone Creamery, Shoe City, Downtown Locker Room and other places.

MTA administrators registered students for the first time yesterday at the Johns Hopkins Metro Station, where about 100 took the pledge, according to spokeswoman Jawauna Greene.

This summer, MTA drivers will attend various festivals to register students, including the African American Heritage Festival, Artscape and the state fair, as well as Baltimore public schools events.

Transit officials began working on the initiative shortly after a woman was attacked on a city bus in December. A Baltimore juvenile court judge found five Robert Poole Middle School students responsible in the December attack on bus passenger Sarah Kreager and her boyfriend.

"The pledge is no magic panacea for things going on in the community," Greene said. "It's symbolic in its nature. It's not there to be a law enforcement measure or to do anything but take a step to reward good behavior."

Greene said she has heard rumblings from some in the community who say the pledge is nothing more than bribing students to act in a civil manner.

Earlier this year, city schools chief Andres Alonso proposed a plan to pay Baltimore high school students to improve test scores, something critics also likened to bribery

Greene said the MTA's program simply wants to reward the kids who are behaving well. About 30,000 students ride MTA buses.

"How many times do you hear about kids doing great things? I'll take the heat if they say I'm rewarding kids for doing positive things," Greene said.

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