At an Impasse: Codman Students Want Transit Deal Finished

Students and faculty at the Codman Academy hope that this weekend will mark the end of their struggles with the MBTA.

After three years of lobbying for six-day student T passes by the Codman Academy, the MBTA created the pass last December and Codman students began using it for the first time this month. But during their first week using the passes in the first week of March, a number of students reported that MBTA bus drivers refused to accept their new passes, with one driver confiscating a student's pass.

The MBTA insists that is has rectified the problem, but the students won't know for certain until they head to school this Saturday.

"It's horrible," said Kedia Picot, a freshman at Codman Academy, who takes the number 14 bus from Roslindale Square.

Picot said that she had her six-day pass confiscated by an MBTA bus driver on March 10.

"He said it was a fake pass," said Picot who tried showing the driver her Codman Academy uniform as proof of her student status.

Picot paid the 95-cent fare and boarded the bus.

Terron Aljoe, another freshman at Codman, had a similar experience. Aljoe takes the number 27 bus from Mattapan to a connection at Ashmont Station to either the number 23 or the number 26, and said that drivers on all three routes accused him of having a fake pass.

Aljoe attributes this to the pass's appearance. The regular five-day student passes have rounded corners and aren't laminated, while the new six-day passes have squared corners and are laminated.

Still, Aljoe said, drivers should be aware of the situation at Codman.

"More people need to know about us having school on Saturday," said Aljoe.

Aljoe's explanation about the new pass's appearance and uninformed drivers is the likely reason for the confusion during that first weekend.

According to MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo, the problems during the first weekend were due to an over sight by the MBTA.

Pesaturo said that whenever a new pass is introduced into the system, a special order is sent to operators, which includes a picture of the new pass. That order however, was not circulated.

"Some operators were caught off guard," said Pesaturo. "It was an unfortunate occurrence due to an oversight"

The order has since been distributed to the operators, according to Pesaturo, and he said he has not heard of any problems since.

To make it up to the school, the MBTA is giving the Codman Academy free six-day passes for next month.

Sold to the school at a rate of $15 per student, the passes were intended to alleviate an ongoing problem for the Academy's students, who repeatedly had difficulty boarding MBTA buses and trains on Saturdays. According to students and staff, the regular student passes issued by the MBTA were not being accepted on Saturdays, forcing students to pay regular price fares when traveling to school or internship programs.

According to Meg Campbell, director of the Codman Academy, the problem grew worse this fall, prompting students and staff from the school to take their case to the MBTA's monthly board of directors meeting.

The school pushed for a solution to the problem and it came in the form of the new passes. The MBTA sells five-day student passes for $13. Students can use the passes until 8 p.m. on school days.

The Codman Academy is a Boston public charter school, opened in September of 2001 that places a heavy emphasis on "expeditionary learning." Students at Codman Academy attend school six days a week due to the school's emphasis on learning outside the classroom. Saturday sessions are regularly utilized for field trips and exploratory activities that take students throughout the city. Seniors at the Codman Academy participate in an internship program on Thursday, with some having placements beyond the city's limits.