Fewer children riding bus to school

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.


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Posted by PA Resident
a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2014 at 12:03 pm

What this article fails to address is the why?

Presumably, the schools aren't growing smaller, so why is this happening? Is it because the kids are walking or riding bikes more? Is it because parents are driving their kids to school?

There must be a reason and the article fails to address that.

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Posted by Jim
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Feb 6, 2014 at 12:58 pm

I went to a meeting where they discussed this. The key is: "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." Goldman stopped allowing transfers between schools so most kids go to their neighborhood schools.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 6, 2014 at 2:29 pm

They may be making less money, but it is probably an essential service for the families who are receiving free or reduced prices. School is not a for-profit business.

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Posted by Money is bottom line
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 6, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Good question PA resident.

1) Is it like Jim said, everyone is within walking distance? I doubt it.
2) Less students?
3) Costs to much, cheaper to drive the kids? (all the stories one hears about how bad the parent drivers are, this maybe the answer)

Even if the ridership has dropped, the best thing to do is get smaller buses, more fuel friendly buses.

I was bused from Whisman rd to Graham jr high long time ago and it was a valuable service indeed.

Any parents or kids out there that can explain this?

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Posted by Former MVWSD parent
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Feb 6, 2014 at 3:00 pm

When the district reduced the number of buses a few years ago, they began limiting the number of kids who were allowed to ride them, since there were fewer seats available. One of the earliest priorities was, logically, giving available seats to lower income students with fewer alternatives for transportation to and from school. It shouldn't be much of a surprise that these students (and, now, their younger siblings as well) are still the ones most likely to ride the bus. And parents whose students were unable to get a seat on a bus previously may not be aware that the availability may have changed.

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