SFUSD mulls charging for bus service

Some Board of Education members want to revisit a plan to charge students for rides on school buses to help close an epic budget deficit.

Another idea being considered for the San Francisco Unified School District is to significantly slash bus routes to free up money.

Several board members agreed the ideas were worth looking into to offset other drastic cuts being proposed to fill a two-year,
$113 million hole.

The district has yet to look into details regarding how much parents would pay or which bus routes could be reduced or cut. They are only ideas at this point, district spokeswoman Gentle Blythe said.

With 50 buses, the district transports 4,400 general-education students to 61 elementary, seven middle and six high schools, Blythe said. The buses take 118 routes each morning and 148 in the afternoon, she said.

Another 1,590 special-education students receive district transportation. Their service is legally required.

In his budget plan, Superintendent Carlos Garcia has already proposed cutting $1.25 million of the transportation budget for next school year, which would affect middle and high school students.

The general-education transit budget is $7 million, including $3.1 million in state funds that can only be used for transportation, the district said. Board members would like to redirect the rest to other school needs.

The idea to charge for bus trips is not new. Concern in past years was that parents cannot choose to send their kids to schools in their neighborhoods. The district’s system for assigning schools attempts to diversify student bodies and may send students from one side of The City to another.

Many students ride Muni to school. In 2008, the agency sold some 20,000 youth Fast Passes monthly.

About 55,500 children attend district schools.

While the idea of charging for bus rides did not gain traction in the past, the current fiscal climate might change that trend.

“This is a different time,” Commissioner Norman Yee said.


Steering away from deficit

The San Francisco Unified School District is looking into charging students for riding the bus and slashing routes.

$7 million Transportation budget
$113 million Budget deficit for the next two school years
50 Buses
4,400 General-education students transported to schools
72 Schools students are transported to
(61 elementary, seven middle, six high schools)
118 Routes buses take each morning
148 Routes buses take each afternoon
1,590 Special-education students who legally must be provided transportation
55,000 Students in district schools

Source: SFUSD

Bay Area NewsBoard of EducationBudget deficitLocalTransittransportation

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