Mountain View Whisman School District's bus drivers have been transporting fewer and fewer students to school.
Over the last five years, ridership on the district's regular bus routes has dropped each year from 448 during the 2009-10 school year to 258 this year, according to Terese McNamee, MVWSD's chief business officer.
Ridership on special education bus routes has remained steady over the same time period.
As ridership has decreased, so has the number of paying riders, McNamee said in a recent presentation to the district's board of trustees. The district anticipates making only about $3,100 in ridership fees this school year -- more than $10,000 less than they took in five years ago. The vast majority of students who take the bus now do so for free or at greatly reduced prices.
Decreases in revenue to the transportation department translate to challenges for the department in transporting children who live in the district to schools outside the district, hiring qualified drivers in a competitive market and keeping its aging bus fleet in good repair, McNamee told the Voice.
The transportation department is addressing these challenges in a number of ways, McNamee said. The district regularly and successfully applies for state transportation grants that help keep the vehicles up and running. The department also recently raised the starting salary for drivers in an effort to attract qualified applicants. And the district continues to examine ways to get more children attending neighborhood schools where they won't need to rely on school buses to get to class.